Warwickshire & UK Portrait Photographer selected commissions and projects
studio and location portrait photographer for advertising and corporate headshots.For over twenty five years I have been taking portraits for commercial purposes, editorial commissions, art projects that have informed my practice and have lead on to major work including the Marsh & Parsons Brand campaign (see Advertising Photographer). It is part of my DNA that I have always wanted to capture images of people, my initial direction was people & lifestyle but my career took many turns and it took a return to Uni to do an MA that made me revisit my portrait work back in 2008, since then it has become my main genre, commissioned & personal. My base near Stratford upon Avon gave me an opportunity to work with the Stratford Literary Festival and produce a large body of work. with the names and upcoming stars of the Literary scene
Portrait photography for business & communication, I have worked as a commercial photographer since graduating in the 1970's, and I have always produced portraits of subjects, from professional models to workers on the shop floor as part of my commercial and fine art practice, however in 2008, I returned to BIAD, (Birmingham Institute of Art & Design) now BCU ( Birmingham City University) and studied Visual communication, eventually gaining an MA in 2010, the major projects that I completed were portrait based, this work has gone on to inform my commercial practice and changed my practice forever?
So do I have an MA in Portrait photography? No, but I have an MA VisCom (Visual Communication ). Portraiture has certainly become a major part of my commercial practice and my own art based work (self instigated ) has also been predominantly portrait based.
Art projects inform the commercial practice and as the audiences are becoming more visually literate, it is important that portraits are read correctly, or that the portrait subject is communicating to the reader the intended visual.
Today everyone is a photographer now and a portrait is the most popular type of image, however selfies and snaps of people are not what I think of as a portrait, however one definition of a photographic portrait is ' An image of a person who is aware of the photographer taking a picture of themself.
This is just a start, as I believe portraiture is far more complex, and yet it is so simple,its just a picture of a person?
A portrait is an image that informs the reader something about the subject that is more than just a physical likeness.
A portrait photographer is someone who can deliver that essence of the subject, it maybe just an insight to their personality but it can be quite profound, the image may not be flattering but it may provide a truth.
All that could be considered pretentious twaddle, but when I see great portrait photography taken by artists like Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Arnold Newman, I am sure there is something of the person's soul been revealed.
Commercial portraits are different?
Commissioned photographic portraits are very complex as the reason for the commission is often very complex. If a magazine commissions a portrait it should reflect the context of the article that it is related too, often it is to illustrate an article that has already written and it would certainly help the photographer to read that and maybe respond to the brief with that in mind, it maybe something that relates to a professional life but there can be many aspects of an article that can prompt the photographer and the manner that the subject is presented, in a location or a neutral studio, but then you have the lights to employ, creating a positive or a negative image.
Where should a portrait photographer direct the subject?
A fundamental matter that is often taken for granted is where the subject should look when they are in front of a camera? The photographer has already determined when the subject is seen. from, and that is a very critical decision, the distance from the subject is going to determine a great deal, too close and the perspective shows the closest part of the subject will look large, their hands can be huge ,not because they are, but they are closer to the camera and natural perspective will make them too large in relation to the face. Seen from above the subject can look "sneaky' subservient or worse? Seen from below, the subject can look powerful, dominant or aloof?
The normal convention is that the subject looks into the lens, the eyes are the window to the soul, but is that really so?
Often the subject is more interesting and looks reflective if they are staring into the distance, or maybe looking at someone?
All these factors are taken into account when a portrait photographer takes on a photo shoot, and we haven't even touched on where the subject is? What the subject should wear? Hair & Make-Up?
A Hair & Makeup artist will certainly be required when advertising portraits are produced, a model maybe able to produce decent makeUp and hair artist, but I certainly advise commercial clients that it is something that the final image will be easier to post produce, certainly hair will need require less post production.
It was Charles Baudelaire that said " A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex,more obvious and more profound."
I cannot disagree, a portrait photograph can be so simple, yet what it communicates to the reader can be so profound and effect the audience much more than most images.