PHVP Week 22 Quick Update

Hi there, I have been disappeared from here these couple of weeks, but here I am again. My Interim Assessment Presentation went as far as I know really well, I showed my work, tutors were satisfied with my portraits and pushed me further. My indication mark currently is 74 and essay results – 62 are really pleasing.

So, this time I have been taking images around Leicester and eventually tried to take my Bronica with my tripod. I noticed that it is somehow much more easier to catch people, talk with them, pursue to be photographed and perhaps they think that I am even more professional.  Also, I achieved better focusing quality. In another words – pictures became technically slightly better.

Less talking, more showing. Here is my images taken during this time.

Also, during my presentation I have talked about starting capturing my friends and making some kind of a small series of pictures with those people who helped me during the studies time etc.  I have decided to shoot these pictures also on my Bronica and use Flash as well. 
The first image with my girlfriend worked quite well, however in the another ones with my friend Erick, flash light is not visible. Need to improve preparation time etc.

Here are those images:
 

Tomorrow I am having a group tutorial at University, so will try to find out some opinions from others and my tutor. 

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PHVP 3409 Week 19 (Long Post)

In the last tutorial I have mentioned many things and during the time, I tried to achieve it.  After looking at Jim Rice photographs I have tried to experiment slightly in overexposing the faces that they would be more noticeable in the photographs. Here is couple of examples from before & after:

The difference is not that huge, but it still makes a face to pop out more. In my point of view, face in portrait is most important part 🙂 

Before my interim assessment presentation on Wednesday I had still some time to capture some people and decided to concentrate more on timeless locations. In my previous examples of work it is possible to see various distracting shop signs, posters and etc. which just really don’t add anything for the picture. Viewers attention goes on them rather than on the subject. So, from now on I will try to pay attention to details and avoid unnecessary objects in my portraits. I noticed from my work and also from the others that timeless locations makes you wonder more about the picture itself and when these photos were being taken.

Last time I mentioned here, that I will share a photo copied photos from The Forgotten Ones by Milton Rogovin and here they are:

As you can see from these images above, everything just works. It is difficult to explain of how I work with the strangers, but I want to show them in serious way and maybe an eye contact creates that look which keeps you watching and thinking about the portrait. 

A little bit more contemporary photographer called ZOLTÁN JÓKAY has done series of portraits around 2000s as well. He used colour film and probably a 35 mm film camera to achieve such results, however most of his pictures are slightly out of focus… For the wish to separate subject from the environment, photographer needed to blurry the background while using fast lenses and wide apertures. Nevertheless, of not perfect focus, all his subjects are having their own time and Zoltan captured them in the way of how I am trying to do it. For me it is quite easier to focus, I guess, because my widest aperture on Bronica is only 2.8 and he probably used 1.4.

Talking about colors and remembering William Hoiles about which I wrote in previous post as well, colorful portraits are more vivid and provides you more visual information in my opinion. However, I noticed that when you tell your subjects that you still shoot on b&w film, I can spot their even bigger confidence in me.   

You may ask, why I like stronger contrast in my all b&w portraits and the answer is quite simple. According to my practice, higher contrast and adjustments in middle tones allows me to highlight a face, the details of skin, clothes and a blurry background.  For example: in the photo album Asakusa Portraits by Hiroh Kikai photographer captured all his really great portraits in the same location, however the soft contrast just doesn’t look great for me. Subjects are all fine, but contrast not. 

Here is my couple of portraits which I have captured before my presentation for Wednesday:

During my presentation Greg and Nick were really positive about my experiments with strangers and encouraged not to stop and keep taking such portraits. They offered me to see some of the Daniel Meadows portraits made during the 70s because both of them agreed that my way of showing and capturing people is quite the same to Meadows. According to tutors it is quite unique nowadays to see such portraits. Here is a couple of examples of Daniel Meadows portraits which are actually quite similar to my work.

Last week I was looking through my all negatives since the 1st year and found this image with the dog & his owner. Personally, I like this portrait because of their gaze and position and it made me to make a short experiment. Now, I am taking pictures with people and asking some general questions, however I thought that I could try to photograph people but WITH their dogs. That would be something different and more interesting perhaps because everyone likes the dogs and it wouldn’t be so similar to my inspiration – Humans of New York. I tried.

So, I have met couple of owners and with each had a great chats about their dogs, however I found it quite difficult to capture, because dogs were moving, waving their heads… I realized that this idea is worth expanding, but certainly not on the film camera and surely with colors, not in black & white. 

During the presentation Greg offered me to check Keith Arnatt’s series called Walking the Dog and when I took a book I’am real photographer from the library, I smiled. Those pictures with dogs and their owners were so good, that I will definitely try to keep doing this project behind my main one. I am not sure if I should use color film on this or just capture it digitally, but I already feel that this project could receive a lot of feedback. 

During my 2nd year, Nick had a lighting workshop in the studio where he explained and showed such technique. You underexpose the picture and compensate the difference with a flashgun. The results are always eye catching because you don’t see such images everyday and so I wanted to experiment that technique on my Bronica SQ-A.

 I felt a need to add something to my portrait images and after spending about 10 minutes, I managed to capture the image. I don’t know if you can see the light coming from the right side, but with more practice, I reckon I could achieve even better results.

That’s it for this time. I am going to take some images now.

PHVP 3409 Week 17. New Inspirations

To begin with, let me remember you what my inspiration was for this staged portraiture project. In 2013 summer I came up with a very successful and famous internet blog called Humans Of New York. Here is the link for it. Photographer Brandon photographs people, their portraits, asks something and than writes a caption next to the image. Such idea really fascinated me and I have decided to begin taking portraits in Leicester and see what is going to unfold.

It is not a surprise that Leicester is very multilingual city and I thought that it should be a very good place for taking portraits with a different kind of cultures people and to see and feel diversity within their opinions. Unfortunately, my idea didn’t work out because most of the Muslims, Indians or Asians quite frequently used to refuse or even not to understand what I wanted from them. This led me to focus more on British people and looking from the photographs this tendency is quite clear. 

Straight from the beginning I showed and still show interest in capturing slightly older individuals and it is probably because I feel that they have greater or more interesting stories.

These portraits are most recent ones and quite soon I will upload some more.

During tutorial this week, tutor Greg noticed that in couple of my photographs it is quite hard to say in which period they were being taken and this made me to think for a while.  We agreed that various modern logos on the windows and lights distracts viewers attention from a subject and it would be better to avoid adding such objects in the pictures. So now, I have decided to add slightly more attention into composition and try to capture people in timeless location.

In my previous post I did mention that I will write about some my new found inspirations and here they are: 

London based photographer Jim Rice had extremely interesting project in London years ago. According to 20thcenturylondon, between 1990 and 1993 Rice explored an extensive documentary project, recording the industrial area around Deptford Creek. Several businesses and Deptford Power Station were among buildings being demolished to make way for riverside redevelopment. Rice’s award-winning project resulted in a book, an exhibition at the Museum of London and widespread coverage.  

Unfortunately, there isn’t any photographs online, so I had to take some on phone. 

Despite the fact that I love urban, industrial landscape between those pictures I found many portraits of man who used to work there, I suppose. While looking at them I saw how well Jim composed the photographs and how high contrast perfectly reflects working conditions. 

Between many books in our library I accidentally found a book about world wide famous portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908 – 2002). He mainly worked in the studio and it is quite different from what I do now, however I really like how he made some of his subjects to look just a slightly over the lens and not straight to it. Perhaps to avoid same compositions in my images I could try to take couple shots with the same person. For example: a close up and medium shot. In opinion, when subject is looking just over the lens, pictures is even more bizarre  and interesting.

According to Peter Granser, project “Sun City” is a series about a retirement colony in the American southwest, where you are only allowed to live, if you are over 55 years of age. In this book, Peter captured the true daily life of real Americans and despite of urban landscape shots, withing his portraits he perfectly revealed subject personalities. Maybe it is because everyone knew that there is a photographer between them and inhabitants felt just relaxed about that. Leicester is not a small city, and such type of shooting wouldn’t work I guess. 

Quite by accident in Flickr I found one photographer who does similar thing as me and Brandon (author of Humans of New York ). His name is William Hoiles and he shoots on film as well. As far as I can see from the pictures, photographer only snaps the photograph and doesn’t speak much with the subjects. However, that doesn’t make pictures boring. I have decided to shoot on black and white because I can develope it by myself and it is cheaper, but looking at William’s pictures I tend to say colour may be even better for such type of photography. Pictures are definitely more vivid and has more visual information in the background because on B&W we cannot see and understand it.
Here is the link for more of his photographs on flickr.

My last inspiration for this time is going to be a book called The Forgotten Ones by Milton Rogovin. Unfortunately there isn’t many photographs online as well, so will photo copy them and talk about in my following post. Here is the link on Amazon.

In the last tutorial I did mention that my portraits becomes boring from my point of view, however after looking through so many artists I came up with a couple of new ideas. I will try to show them in the next post 🙂 

 

PHVP 3409 Week 15

Hello again and happy New Year!  A lot of time passed since my last post, but I haven’t disappeared. Previous time I wrote just after my formative assessment and during the holidays I have received an interim assessment mark which was 70%. That really pleased me and showed that I am on the right direction. For Christmas Holidays I went back to the Lithuania with all my stuff and it was a nightmare as usual while passing the customs, but everything finally went ok.

To sum up my holidays, I can say that those 3 weeks passed really quickly, however during that time I could have done more work for sure.  Talking about this module, I took my Bronica with me to the Lithuania because wanted to try to take some portraits. I had an idea about comparing people and finding their stories, however I have produced only two portraits . The problem I noticed was that British people are much much camera friendly and willing to be photographed. While walking through the streets of Vilnius I asked many people for the picture, but majority of them always refused it. Damn..   

Here are two portraits which I have made:

According to Vytautas, aged 84 years old by now, story who is on the left hand side, is a writer who published a new novel not so long away and reckons that life hasn’t changed that much during the last 30 years. Of course, Lithuania became independent but now we have different problems such as emigration. With Zigmas, who is on the right I talked less, but find out that he knows where the UK is because his wife’s sister’s daughter is coming back for Christmas.

Despite the fact of only two portraits, I have captured some city urban landscapes as well, in which I am extremely interested and always dedicate some frames in the film when I see something strange in the ordinary. 

Just before leaving to the Lithuania I had some shots left in my Bronica so decided quickly finish it and see what I’ve got. After developing and scanning this film I noticed once again that I am leaving too much of headroom in the photographs which doesn’t look great. In this term, I must fix this problem. 🙂

Keep an eye on my blog because soon in the next post I will talk more about my new found inspirations of stranger portraiture!