Monday, 8 November 2010

Project 4: An active portrait

The brief for this project is to capture a subject absorbed in some activity (not necessarily an activity involving a lot of movement – the emphasis is on absorption).  The objective is to concentrate on ‘the person and the facial expression’.  Jayne is my subject again, and I have photographed her working on a quilted table-runner – a sewing project, in other words.
One of the challenges was to actually manage to photograph the face at all.  A number of factors came into play here – some of the activity takes place in a corner of a small room where it is not easy to set up a camera angle on the face, as illustrated below.

This image works well as a portrait – the lighting, the colours, the hand position, the compositional line between gaze and activity.  There is probably just enough of the face visible to demonstrate a level of concentration and absorption, but the full facial expression has to be left to the imagination.  The hair falling over the face is obviously another contributory factor, but so is the need to look downwards when concentrating in this way – something that would be common to many such portraits.
Whilst working at the sewing machine, Jayne occasionally looked away to examine the work, and I tried to use that opportunity to get more of her face in frame.
Once again, the image works well, with lighting, composition, and body position all adding to a successful illustration of her absorption in the task, but the full facial expression is still missing.
Moving away from the sewing machine to work at a table gave more opportunity to vary the camera angles.

Shooting with the camera hand-held and lower produced the image above.  Lighting is from afternoon sunlight through the window, which has certainly contributed to making this an attractive portrait, but the composition also works well – the circle of hands/arms/head/hair, the colour of the pin cushion in the foreground, the highlighting of the two key points of interest i.e. face and activity, the reflections in the table top.  But the full facial expression is still missing.
Finally, by moving to another angle and waiting until Jayne need to look in my direction, I got the following image.
As an attractive, well-composed portrait, it probably works less well that the others, but it does successfully capture her facial expression, fully-absorbed in the activity.
Thanks again for your patience, Jayne.

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