Representation through Portraiture- Final Photographs

After spending time researching and taking photographs for my task on portraiture, I have finally decided on my final four photographs, two of my selected person and two of objects that represent him. I chose my best photographs and then decided which of these to use as my final four photographs. For this task I was looking at the idea of having a sleeping portrait and having a more staged studio photograph. I want to look at how people present themselves to the camera; when people are asleep they are unaware of the camera and so that photograph will be natural, whereas when people are aware of the camera, such as in a studio shoot, they will act differently, with different poses and facial expressions. To combine with these two portrait photographs, I photographed objects that are personal to the person. When photographing these objects, I wanted to echo the lighting and idea of the portraits; I took one of the photographs at night again of the objects at home, where they live in the house and their ‘natural home’, for the second photograph I wanted it to be more staged and set up in the studio with bright lights.

I interviewed Thomas Tierney, who I decided to be my subject; from the interview with him I found out some important information that has helped aid my photographs. Tom told me he finds it hard to switch off, especially after work, on most nights he often stays awake into the early hours of the morning; he does this as he doesn’t like going to sleep and so tries to avoid it by watching TV or listening to music. Tom told me that he can’t fall asleep in the darkness and has to have either the TV, his laptop or a lamp on; this is because he doesn’t like the pitch black and silence as it gives him time to think about personal issues that are happening to him at the moment, the TV and music offer him a distraction and allow him to get away from that, eventually leading to him falling asleep. For my photographs I have taken opportunity from this information, and have been influenced by the work of Philip-Lorca diCorcia, where he lights his photographs from lamps in the bedroom; in my photographs I have used the lighting from his laptop, that Tom has to have on to sleep, to light my photographs of him while he sleeps. By using this lighting it has given my photographs a greater authenticity, the lighting would also highlight and represent Tom’s lifestyle and daily routine. The lighting also gave a beautiful soft quality to my photographs, echoing the work of Philip-Lorca diCorcia, and adding to the natural feel of my photographs. Here are some of my final photographs of Tom sleeping:

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I liked these three photographs, as they shows parts of Toms room, giving context about his lifestyle, however I preferred the photograph below, which is a more close up shot of Tom sleeping. By having a closer shot, you can see more of Tom’s expression and features, showing what he looks like naturally when he is sleeping; furthermore by taking the photograph closer, there are fewer distractions, making Tom the focus therefore communicating my idea more clearly, of showing how people have no control over how they act when they are asleep. I took influence from Tim Hetherington’s photographs of sleeping soldiers, they are very striking, showing a more vulnerable and normal side to these soldiers; I wanted to show this natural side of Tom in my photograph, where he can’t react to the camera.

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For my photograph of Tom’s objects at home in their ‘natural environment’, when I was shooting Tom at night while he was sleeping, I noticed his bed side table with the Malibu bottle, that he uses to practise flaring, and other items how he left them. I decided to photograph his bedside table as there was a beautiful set up that Tom chose himself; I also used the lighting from Tom’s laptop to link and echo to the lighting and look of the photograph of Tom sleeping. I really like the final photograph (seen below) as I feel the colours and tones are beautiful, the set up of the shot is good as it could be mistaken for still life, however the mess and small items on the table give it away and make the photograph more natural and personal.

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When speaking to Tom, he said he was quite an outgoing and friendly person, however having said that he said that he is also self -conscious and would act it in front of the camera. To overcome this nervousness and self-conscious side, Tom said he would pull awkward faces to hide his self-conscious side from the camera. When taking photographs of Tom, I did notice this self-conscious side, as seen in the photographs below, he was aware of the camera and changed how he acted. He made funny faces, like he said he would, and also kept checking his hair and outfit to make sure he looked good. 

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 These first four photographs show Tom’s self-conscious side; he is aware of the camera and so he is pulling faces or playing with his hair to overcome his unease.

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I decided on this photograph as I loved the lighting and colours, highlighting Tom as the main focus. This photograph shows Tom’s self-conscious side, he is looking down playing with his hands; I took the photograph when Tom was just being natural and acting how he wanted in front of the camera.

For my final photograph of an object, originally I wanted to take a photograph of Tom’s objects in the studio as a more set up and staged shoot. I did this however I was not pleased with the outcome, they were very dull and plain photographs. Instead I then tried playing around with more artistic photographs, I also got Tom to do some flaring with the Malibu bottle, these were much more interesting photographs.

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I selected this photograph as I thought the personality of both Tom and the objects came over; this shows what Tom does and enjoys. Furthermore I feel this links to the photograph of Tom in the studio as he acts differently in front of the camera, and so with these objects when Tom was in the studio he was just throwing them around and I tried to capture this in an action shot.

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Overall I am really pleased with my final four photographs; I have two portrait photographs and two landscape layout photographs, so these look good together as a body of work. Furthermore I feel that all the photographs work well together as they are all similar colours and tones. I feel I have addressed my brief well and I am very pleased. I decided to print my final photographs 6×4, this is quite a small print, and I selected this because I wanted these photographs to be quite intimate. Due to the nature and subject of the photographs, these are very personal prints, letting the viewer into the world of Tom; I decided to have small final prints, as I wanted the viewer to have to have an intimate viewing of them, they would have to get up close to view them, spending time looking at all the detail. I also didn’t want the images too big as I feel this is a private world of Tom’s, and it shouldn’t just be thrown onto display so anyone can see, I wanted the viewing to become more personal to each viewer, so that they feel they are being invited to see a small part of Tom’s world.

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