‘Environmental Portraits’ – ‘Ollie’

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.

The Subject: Ollie is an interesting man with an equally interesting face, he came to my rescue when the person I was supposed to photograph that night stood me up. He is a natural in front of the camera, animated and possessing a good sense of fun. At one point I went to my camera bag for a change of lens and turned to find him wearing a massive cooking pot on his head, waiting to be photographed. We both had a good time shooting these portraits

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