Sunday, March 23, 2008

“Environmental” Portraits

Portrait photography, of course, was one of the earliest forms of the craft, taking after the artists at the time, following the development of the albumen coated paper process to record light images. Today's modern "environmental" portraiture is not much different, although sometimes considerably edgier, in that it seeks to portray the subject in a controlled setting that speaks directly to the nature of the subject or which dramatically thrusts the subject into the forefront of the picture. Four of my photographs posted here illustrate this concept.

In the example of the young woman above, the background landscape is "pulled up," so to speak by a telephoto lens which removes the sky and which provides a dark yet still interesting natural backdrop for the subject.

In the second illustration, the woman's face is pushed towards the viewer by the out of focus yet still distinct background.

In the third illustration, this young Nicaraguan child is sitting in front of a shop open to the street – those are strands of fresh garlic and a display of kettles hanging in the background. Because they are out of focus, yet can still be made out, they provide some context for the photo, yet the background also serves to thrust the child towards the viewer. I took the latter two of these pictures with a 105 mm lens on a Nikon film camera. The first is with a 200mm lens.

And in the fourth illustration, below, the "environment" tells the story, as Meiu, nude herself, is a painter of nude portraits.


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