I am just going through a selection of images to present for a portfolio review that I am attending in a month’s time. The idea behind one of these reviews is you gather together a number of images that best represent your current work and ask a respected peer to offer thoughts and direction. Personally I find it nerve wracking but ultimately worthwhile. I try to attend one every 12 months or so.
If I am totally honest I consider myself to be a strong photographer but not a brilliant one, (and this article genuinely isn’t about false modesty). I do know that some of my images are really good and represent a good professional standard.
But I’m not exactly sure how I go about getting some of the images that I do.
Stick with me here and I’ll try and explain…
If you buy any magazine which relies heavily on powerful images (whether it be landscape, interior decoration or fashion) you’ll see images that have been sculpted by the photographer. They’ve delivered an image that reflects what they have had in mind from before the shoot. They may have even sketched the image out beforehand.
I don’t really do that and when I have tried it, the image often appears as a big cliche or even worse just looks like I’m copying someone else’s style.
The portrait above is one I’m really proud of, it’s a simple image taken inside a carpenter’s workshop of the carpenter’s wife in a place called Lapai, which is Niger State in Nigeria. The image isn’t contrived or sculpted in any sense. Even her pose is directed by the environment (she was holding her scarf from the wind). From saying hello to taking the portrait took no more than a minute. I love this picture, it’s everything I wanted it to be.
I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my ambled approach is simply how I work and thankfully I have found it also works with children’s portraiture.
My theory is that if I’m in place and know how to operate my camera, it won’t be that long until a child does something remarkable. Applying some photography basics with a good understanding of my camera simply allows me to create a very strong image. There isn’t any brilliance involved!
The two images here didn’t really involve any direction from me and I think I’d have been hard pressed to deliver anything better. Note: I do realise there is probably an established phrase (probably in French) for my approach and hundreds of books written about it.
So as I consider the images for this review I’m also thinking that I probably need to introduce some direction and develop my own creativity, without losing the ability to capture just what’s in front of me.
As ever all thoughts are greatly received : )