I’ve never embarked in portraits. It has always been landscapes or conceptual ideas that drive my image making. Now that university is over, I thought I would start experimenting with portraiture. To get me going, I took a look back at some snaps taken at past exhibitions in London, and found some large scale photographs at Tate Modern in London by German photographer Thomas Ruff.
Also, I’ve never photographed my girlfriend Emma, and would like starting to (in a fine art context, not a “holiday snap” context).
So from today, I will challenge myself to take different portraits of Emma after different photographers, the first being Thomas Ruff.
Ruff’s portraits are straight up plain and simple. Head and shoulders, looking straight ahead, no expression, just a passport photo look, or a ‘dead pan’ look.
I shot this photograph is simply as I could. Using by basic level DSLR, I still achieved a pretty sharp image. This was taken in Emma’s bedroom at her home. The sun was quite low (it must have been about 7pm) but high enough to produce a white light. We turned the lights off and opened the blinds fully. I stood with my back to the windows and photographed her head and shoulders bathed in the nice even light. You can actually see me in the reflection of her eyes if you look closely!
It took a while to choose between 4 favourite images of her. I chose this one as there is a hint of a smile; she just looks relaxed and content. In others, she appeared forcibly relaxed, tired, or regal.
And also, not much editing was done to this image either. Just a little sharpness added to her eyes and necklace, the background (her grey wall) was made a tad bluer just to compliment her warmer skin tone, but no ‘retouching’ (getting rid of stray hairs, skin blemishes, dust, etc.), just marginal tonal adjustments. There is still a little work to do; it appear a tad grey; it just needs a little kick or contrast or brightness. I’m happy with the colour though.
I am so pleased with this first portrait of Emma, I have submitted it into the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Fingers crossed!