The Brief: Consider the work of both Callahan and Germain, then select a subject for a series of five portraits, varying the locations and backgrounds. The one consistent picture element must be the subject you have chosen, who must appear in all five images. Think carefully about where you choose to photograph them, either using a pose that offers a returned gaze to the camera, or simply captures them going about their daily business. The objective once again is to visually link the images together in some way.
The Head, St Romeros
Image 1 of 5
This exercise came out of a request to photograph a school, who had recently changed their name and therefore, needed new images for their prospectus and website. https://stromeros.co.uk/
The model in these images is Mr Byrne, the Head Teacher at the school, taken during two separate sessions at the school, capturing the day to day life of the school.
There are a mixture of formal posed images and some when he is not aware of the camera. Having remembered my conversation with my tutor about authentic smiles / expressions, I took my time taking the shots once the scene had been set up, to give the people chance to relax.
Although this was an opportunistic chance to capture these images, I did think about the exercises already completed in the course and employed some of the principles. I tried to engender a feeling of capturing candid moments in the life of school and head teacher, even though all of the images except one were actually staged.
This exercise was opposite to the last one (Exercise 2.3) in that it asked for some consistency in the theme, but this time it is the background that needed to remain the same, whilst the model changed.
We are now in a time where ‘Lockdown’ has been relaxed enough to allow us family visits in our gardens, whilst still remaining socially distanced. i.e. 2 metres apart. Therefore, this series comments on that requirement, by placing 3 chairs close together in the garden, representing a time when we might have sat that close to each other chatting. Each model was asked to sit in a different chair and asked to act as if they might have been talking to the people in the other chairs.
Finally the compilation image shows how they might have looked had they actually been sitting together.
The camera was on a tripod, at least 2 mtrs away from the models adding the context of social distance from the photographer as well as each other. The same settings were used for each image with the exception of the focus being reset onto the person’s face.
Unlike Irving Penn and Clare Strand the background is real, it is my garden, I did not want to isolate the subjects from reality but fix them in it, as this is a moment in time, which we may never experience again in our lifetimes. I did consider using a bench in a park for a more aesthetically pleasing background, but that would have detracted from the comment being made. The background and chairs do tie the images together and the model in the image and those not in it are equally important.
I actually am really pleased with this concept and feel that I did it justice for this exercise. Perhaps if I had more time, I could have arranged the garden a bit differently and made the images more aesthetically interesting. I was lucky with the the way the models were dressed, as the colours they were wearing did tie them together nicely.