‘Environmental Portraits’ – ‘Boris’

Ahhhh! Colour, what a relief!! After shooting exclusively in black and white for the previous three assignments; viewing hue as tone,  the world has become chromatic once again. This brief was set to encourage us to seek out potential portrait subjects and to shoot them in their environment or specifically in a environment that one may have pre- designed, scoped in advance, or chosen in order to reflect the person and their gesture or expression. The clearest definition of a ‘Portrait’ we were given is a photograph of a person where the photographer has directed the action, a portrait is an intervention, a coerced scenario where the photographer has formed some kind of relationship or ‘contract’ with the ‘sitter’ and sees something in the scene that they wish to bring out into the photograph. In this sense the environment around the sitter can serve to reinforce this view – either through reflecting the person and telling us something about the sitters circumstances; or by contradiction, a confounding of the expectations raised in the eye of the audience when trying to read the photograph or pin the subject down.

Thoughts on the process: Boris is a funky guy, he works in a shop on Portobello Road called ‘Best’ which sells tasty clothing for men and women, he is the sort of person who can carry off a mix of fabrics, styles and shapes with panache. Long-limbed and striking – he should be a model. Well he was today: here he is posing for me in the shop and on the street outside. He was gracious and flexible and we both enjoyed the shoot very much. The shop was darker inside than I expected so I asked to turn on one of the standing lamps that lurked underneath a rack of coats. This provided enough light to avoid the use of flash and also to give his face some strong side shadows.

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