Category Archives: Term 3, Year 1

Final Piece and development of Ideas

Ideas for the narrative for the final piece

I went to the exhibition with an idea of what I wanted to photograph. While I was attending the exhibition I had to be flexible and look for other opportunities to try develop and adapt some further ideas so that I had more choice of material to present as my final piece.

I used a digital SLR camera to shoot the photographs in colour. I used only available lighting, no flash or studio lights.

First idea.

The setting up of the exhibition space, taking shots from a single place, to show people coming and going, setting up their work. The room how it changes as more exhibits are displayed, the art appearing on the wall, the installations being built. The hope to have a sequence of still photographs that would build in the same way as time-lapse photography.

Second idea

I took many shots of an installation being assembled and developed. The idea for this again was a series of photographs that would create a photo-diary or time sequence of photographs that follows the creation and development of the installation. The people involved in creating their art displays.

Third idea

To take photographs of elements of the exhibition from unusual angles, to try and give an alternative story from the traditional documentary approach. To present a collection of images that are centered on the exhibition that tell a story of the art works themselves, how they are constructed.

Don McCullin

Donald McCullin is a British photographer born in 1935. He is most known for his photojournalism in war photography. In 1977 he joined the Royal Photographic society, during that time the society awarded him a medal and a fellow honour ship for the Society’s 150th anniversary  in 2003.

Between 1966 and 1984, McCullin worked for The Sunday Times Magazine. McCullin’s assignments included Biafra, the Belgian Congo, the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, Bangladesh and the Lebanese civil war. It is his photographs of Vietnam and Cambodia that have become among the most famous and well-recognised.


Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is an American photographer born in 1950. he has worked in photojournalism and editorial. He is best known for his 1984 photograph “Afghan Girl” which originally appeared in National Geographic magazine. McCurry is a member of Magnum Photos. he has been awarded the world press photo award for general news.

McCurry not only takes portraits, but also the people living their lives, going about their daily living.



Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau was a French photographer born 1912, died 1994.  In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris. He was a champion of humanist photography and with Henri Cartier-Bresson a pioneer of photojournalism.
Vitrine londonienne
The photograph shows a man in the water with a double base floating next to him.  The story has elements of curiosity, why is the man smiling back at the photograph, more curious is why is the man has a musical instruement floating next to him.  The viewer can invent many reasons why this might have happened.
Le Plongeur du Pont d’Iena . Paris. 1945
In the photograph you can see a man jumping into space. The viewer does not know why they are jumping, or if it’s safe. You assume they are jumping in to the water and the landing will be safe into deep water.  The story tells a s tory and lets the viewer decide on the possible outcome.
Web sites with biography and many examples of his work.

Interesting articles about Portrait photography

A collection of articles about portraits, portraiture, photography.  The use of portrait photography by charities for fund raising.  The importance and techniques of portraits in facial surgery.  What are the photographic proportions of a face that are considered attractive

The interest in the use of portraits in the form of the ‘Selfie’.  The selfie is the personal portrait taken on snap digital cameras and smart phones typically to share amongst friends or self-promotion on social media.


Dölen, U.C., Çınar, S.
Perfect Lighting for Facial Photography in Aesthetic Surgery: Ring Light
(2016) Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 40 (2), pp. 319-326.
ABSTRACT: Introduction: Photography is indispensable for plastic surgery. On-camera flashes can result in bleached out detail and colour. This is why most of the plastic surgery clinics prefer studio lighting similar to professional photographers’. In this article, we want to share a simple alternative to studio lighting that does not need extra space: Ring light. Methods: We took five different photographs of the same person with five different camera and lighting settings: Smartphone and ring light; point and shoot camera and on-camera flash; point and shoot camera and studio lighting; digital single-lens reflex (DLSR) camera and studio lighting; DSLR and ring light. Then, those photographs were assessed objectively with an online survey of five questions answered by three distinct populations: plastic surgeons (n: 28), professional portrait photographers (n: 24) and patients (n: 22) who had facial aesthetic procedures. Results: Compared to the on-camera flash, studio lighting better showed the wrinkles of the subject. The ring light facilitated the perception of the wrinkles by providing homogenous soft light in a circular shape rather than bursting flashes. The combination of a DSLR camera and ring light gave the oldest looking subject according to 64 % of responders. The DSLR camera and the studio lighting demonstrated the youngest looking subject according to 70 % of the responders. The majority of the responders (78 %) chose the combination of DSLR camera and ring light that exhibited the wrinkles the most. Conclusions: We suggest using a ring light to obtain well-lit photographs without loss of detail, with any type of cameras. However, smartphones must be avoided if standard pictures are desired. Level of Evidence IV: This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Zarzycka, M.
Save the child: Photographed faces and affective transactions in NGO child sponsoring programs
(2016) European Journal of Women’s Studies, 23 (1), pp. 28-42.
ABSTRACT: The face of a child in need is a visual trope that is at the forefront of the politics of spectacle in emergency news and aid initiatives. Images of children’s faces work on both affective and ethical levels, appealing to compassion and to a discourse of universal human rights. Acknowledging both the cultural fascination with and distrust of images of children, this article focuses on the strategies of persuasion used by an international NGO Save the Children in their child sponsoring campaign. Identifying the ways that both NGO guidelines and strategies shape the way the image is composed and framed, and engaging with the concepts of ‘sponsoring,’ ‘saving,’ and ‘parenting,’ the article follows how the campaign configures financial help as an affective, rather than economic, relationship between the donor and the beneficiary. © The Author(s) 2015.

Třebický, V., Fialová, J., Kleisner, K., Havlíček, J.
Focal length affects depicted shape and perception of facial images
(2016) PLoS ONE, 11 (2), art. no. e0149313, .
ABSTRACT: Static photographs are currently the most often employed stimuli in research on social perception. The method of photograph acquisition might affect the depicted subject’s facial appearance and thus also the impression of such stimuli. An important factor influencing the resulting photograph is focal length, as different focal lengths produce various levels of image distortion. Here we tested whether different focal lengths (50, 85, 105 mm) affect depicted shape and perception of female and male faces.We collected three portrait photographs of 45 (22 females, 23 males) participants under standardized conditions and camera setting varying only in the focal length. Subsequently, the three photographs from each individual were shown on screen in a randomized order using a 3-alternative forced-choice paradigm. The images were judged for attractiveness, dominance, and femininity/masculinity by 369 raters (193 females, 176 males). Facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) was measured from each photograph and overall facial shape was analysed employing geometric morphometric methods (GMM). Our results showed that photographs taken with 50 mm focal length were rated as significantly less feminine/masculine, attractive, and dominant compared to the images taken with longer focal lengths. Further, shorter focal lengths produced faces with smaller fWHR. Subsequent GMM revealed focal length significantly affected overall facial shape of the photographed subjects. Thus methodology of photograph acquisition, focal length in this case, can significantly affect results of studies using photographic stimuli perhaps due to different levels of perspective distortion that influence shapes and proportions of morphological traits. © 2016 Saloojee et al.

Del Mar Ramírez Alvarado, M.
Disturbing gazes: The works of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron in the framework of communication history and gender studies [Las miradas turbadoras: La obra de la fotógrafa Julia Margaret Cameron en el marco de la Historia de la Comunicación y de los Estudios de Género]
(2016) Observatorio, 10 (1), pp. 181-200.
ABSTRACT: This article has a double objective. On the one hand, it is contextualized under the gender studies that attempt to reclaim female figures whose contributions to different fields of knowledge have been forgotten or minimized because of the predominant idea of geniality as a male feature. On the other hand, it aims to deepen on the History of Communication in order to rescue the contributions of British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879). The methodology is based on the analysis of direct sources such as the photographs taken by this author, the analysis of her autobiography The annals of my glass house, and the review of previous research on her work. Conclusions show that, despite the professional underestimation that she suffered, Cameron accomplished a very creative and artistic photographic work which, in some cases, was ahead of her time. Copyright © 2016 (María del Mar Ramírez Alvarado).

Redi, M., Rasiwasia, N., Aggarwal, G., Jaimes, A.
The beauty of capturing faces: Rating the quality of digital portraits
(2015) 2015 11th IEEE International Conference and Workshops on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition, FG 2015, art. no. 7163086, .
ABSTRACT: Digital portrait photographs are everywhere, and while the number of face pictures keeps growing, not much work has been done to on automatic portrait beauty assessment. In this paper, we design a specific framework to automatically evaluate the beauty of digital portraits. To this end, we procure a large dataset of face images annotated not only with aesthetic scores but also with information about the traits of the subject portrayed. We design a set of visual features based on portrait photography literature, and extensively analyze their relation with portrait beauty, exposing interesting findings about what makes a portrait beautiful. We find that the beauty of a portrait is linked to its artistic value, and independent from age, race and gender of the subject. We also show that a classifier trained with our features to separate beautiful portraits from non-beautiful portraits outperforms generic aesthetic classifiers. © 2015 IEEE.

Zhang, X., Constable, M., Chan, K.L.
Exemplar-based portrait photograph enhancement as informed by portrait paintings
(2014) Computer Graphics Forum, 33 (8), pp. 38-51.
ABSTRACT: This paper proposes an approach to enhance the regional contrasts in snap-shot style portrait photographs by using pre-modern portrait paintings as aesthetic exemplars. The example portrait painting is selected based on a comparison of the existing contrast properties of the painting with those of the photograph. The contrast organization in the selected example painting is transferred to the photograph by mapping the inter- and intra-regional contrasts of the regions, such as the face and skin areas of the foreground figure, the non-face/skin part of the foreground and the background region. A piecewise non-linear transformation curve is used to achieve the contrast mapping. Finally, the transition boundary between regions is smoothed to achieve the final results. The experimental results and user study demonstrate that, by using this proposed approach, the visual appeal of the portrait photographs is effectively improved, and the face and the figure become more salient. © 2014 The Authors Computer Graphics Forum © 2014 The Eurographics Association and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Hayn-Leichsenring, G.U., Kloth, N., Schweinberger, S.R., Redies, C.
Adaptation effects to attractiveness of face photographs and art portraits are domain-specific
(2013) i-Perception, 4 (5), pp. 303-316.
ABSTRACT: We studied the neural coding of facial attractiveness by investigating effects of adaptation to attractive and unattractive human faces on the perceived attractiveness of veridical human face pictures (Experiment 1) and art portraits (Experiment 2). Experiment 1 revealed a clear pattern of contrastive after effects. Relative to a pre-adaptation baseline, the perceived attractiveness of faces was increased after adaptation to unattractive faces, and was decreased after adaptation to attractive faces. Experiment 2 revealed similar aftereffects when art portraits rather than face photographs were used as adaptors and test stimuli, suggesting that effects of adaptation to attractiveness are not restricted to facial photographs. Additionally, we found similar aftereffects in art portraits for beauty, another aesthetic feature that, unlike attractiveness, relates to the properties of the image (rather than to the face displayed). Importantly, Experiment 3 showed that aftereffects were abolished when adaptors were art portraits and face photographs were test stimuli. These results suggest that adaptation to facial attractiveness elicits aftereffects in the perception of subsequently presented faces, for both face photographs and art portraits, and that these effects do not cross image domains.

Pavlovic, I., Mikota, M., Skala, T.
Influence of the lighting and the ISO speed on the digitally shot black and white portrait photographs
(2008) Annals of DAAAM and Proceedings of the International DAAAM Symposium, pp. 1045-1046.
ABSTRACT: Gallery portrait art photographs because of its syntactic and semantic characteristics are often achieved in B&W technique. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the optimization of the digital shooting in the area of B&W portrait photography. In B&W shooting mode Munsell Color X-rite ColorChecker and face portraits were shot under the same condition ISO speeds 100/21, 400/27 and 3200/36 with flashlight, halogen, nitraphot and tungsten lighting were used. Reproduction curves and optical coverage for skin colours were defined and visual estimations, in conditions defined with standard ISO 9358, were done. Among tested lightings, flashlight gives the worst results while other give better providing more possibilities in light and shadow modulation. The evaluations of used ISO speeds show that digital photographic system enables using of the slightly higher speeds which enables working with the lighting of lower power but can be certain lack in photography syntaxes, as well.

Articles about the “Selfie”

Sorokowska, A., Oleszkiewicz, A., Frackowiak, T., Pisanski, K., Chmiel, A. , Sorokowski, P.
Selfies and personality: Who posts self-portrait photographs?
(2016) Personality and Individual Differences, 90, pp. 119-123.
ABSTRACT: Online social networking (OSN) sites play many roles ranging from communication to entertainment. The current paper presents an analysis of the recently emerged OSN phenomenon of the selfie (self-portrait photographs of oneself). In two studies involving a total of 1296 men and women, we tested the prediction that selfie-sharing on various OSN sites (including Facebook) is positively related to social exhibitionism, extraversion, and self-esteem. Participants reported sharing anywhere between 0 to 650 selfies per month on various OSN sites, and were found to post, on average, 2.9 selfies of themselves, 1.4 selfies with a romantic partner, and 2.2 group selfies to Facebook each month. Women posted more selfies of each type than did men. Regardless of sex, our results indicate that social exhibitionism and extraversion generally predicted the frequency of online selfie-posting in men and women, however we found no strong evidence for a relationship between self-esteem and selfie-posting behavior among women, and only weak evidence among men. The results of this work highlight key individual differences among OSN users that can account for some of the variation in online photo sharing behavior, and provide novel insight into the psychological factors driving this rapidly popularizing phenomenon. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Dinhopl, A., Gretzel, U.
Selfie-taking as touristic looking
(2016) Annals of Tourism Research, 57, pp. 126-139.
ABSTRACT: This paper reconceptualises the tourist gaze as facilitated by smart phones and social media, with a focus on selfies. It presents selfie-taking as a new way of touristic looking in which tourists become the objects of the self-directed tourist gaze. The paper suggests that the practice of selfie-taking in tourism is constituted by othering, stylized performing and producing/consuming visual culture of the self. Through these processes, tourists are able to ascribe the characteristics they otherwise associate with tourist sights onto themselves. Rather than fetishizing the extraordinary at the tourist destination, tourists seek to capture the extraordinary within themselves. Traditional tourist sights and attractions take on different relative importance. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd

Bruno, N. , Bertamini, M. , Protti, F.
Selfie and the city: A world-wide, large, and ecologically valid database reveals a two-pronged side bias in nai[[ampi]]die;ve self-portraits
(2015) PLoS ONE, 10 (4), art. no. e0124999, .
Università Suor Orsola Benincasa, Napoli, Italy
ABSTRACT: Self-portraits are more likely to show the artist’s right than left cheek. This phenomenon may have a psychobiological basis: Self-portraitists often copy their subject from mirrors and, if they prefer to present their left cheek (more expressive due to right-lateralization of emotions) to the mirror, this would result in a right-cheek bias in the painting. We tested this hypothesis using SelfieCity (3200 selfies posted on Instagram from December 4 through 12, 2013 from New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Moskow, and Bangkok), which includes two selfie-taking styles: a “standard” (photograph of selfie-taker) and a “mirror” (photograph of mirror reflection of selfie-taker) style. We show that the first style reveals a left cheek bias, whereas the second reveals a right cheek bias. Thus side biases observed in a world-wide, large, and ecologically valid database of naïve self-portraits provide strong support for a role of psychobiological factors in the artistic composition of self-portraits. © 2015 Bruno et al.

Iqani, M. , Schroeder, J.E.
#selfie: digital self-portraits as commodity form and consumption practice
(2015) Consumption Markets and Culture, pp. 1-11. Article in Press.
ABSTRACT: Although selfies may appear to be the latest fad, their popularity has had a transformational influence on contemporary culture. Selfies invoke important issues in communication, photography, psychology, self-expression, and digital media studies – as they bring up a host of concerns about identity, privacy, security, and surveillance. This article provides an interdisciplinary overview of the selfie as both an object and a practice, and offers theoretical reflections on how the selfie can be seen as an important commodity form and consumer behaviour. The selfie is connected to concepts of authenticity, consumption, and self-expression, as well as practices of art history, media forms, and self-portraiture. Strategic use of the selfie reveals shifts in the traditional functions of the advertising photograph, from sources of information, persuasion, and representation to emblems of social currency. We position the selfie not as a postmodern anomaly but as a type of image with a history. © 2015 Taylor & Francis

Tifentale, A., Manovich, L.
Selfiecity: Exploring photography and self-fashioning in social media
(2015) Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design, pp. 109-122.
Book Chapter

Tifentale, A., Manovich, L.
Selfiecity: Exploring Photography and Self-Fashioning in Social Media
(2015) Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation And Design, pp. 109-122.
Book Chapter

Tiidenberg, K. , Gómez Cruz, E.
Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body
(2015) Body and Society, 21 (4), pp. 77-102.
ABSTRACT: This article explores the relationality between women’s bodies and selfies on NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tumblr blogs. We consider the way selfie practices engage with normative, ageist and sexist assumptions of the wider culture in order to understand how specific ways of looking become possible. Women’s experiences of their bodies change through interactions, sense of community and taking and sharing selfies. This article provides an empirical elaboration on what sexy selfies are and do by analysing interviews, selfies and blog content of nine women in the NSFW self-shooters community on tumblr. For our participants, self-shooting is an engaged, self-affirmative and awareness raising pursuit, where their body, through critically self-aware self-care, emerges as agentic, sexual and distinctly female. Thus, this is a reading of selfies as a practice of freedom. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Cruz, E.G. , Thornham, H.
Selfies beyond self-representation: The (theoretical) f(r)ictions of a practice
(2015) Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 7, art. no. 28073, .
ABSTRACT: Drawing on a wide corpus of ethnographic research projects, including on photography practices, young filmmakers and writers, and current research with young unemployed people, we argue that contemporary understandings of selfies either in relation to a “documenting of the self ” or as a neoliberal (narcissistic) identity affirmation are inherently problematic. Instead, we argue that selfies should be understood as a wider social, cultural, and media phenomenon that understands the selfie as far more than a representational image. This, in turn, necessarily redirects us away from the object “itself,” and in so doing seeks to understand selfies as a socio-technical phenomenon that momentarily and tentatively holds together a number of different elements of mediated digital communication. © 2015 E. Gomez Cruz and H. Thornham.

Farías, G.
SELFIE and the experience of the virtual image
(2015) Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 7 (1), pp. 74-81.

Selfie and the experience of the virtual image

ABSTRACT: People know the world through images; new realities are created and new identities are developed. Consequently, portraits may become a representation of one’s personality and a reflection of the society of spectacle. These digital pictures change the experience of memory and inherently trace back to photographs. Thus, the “screen” mediates the relations among people and the information flow carrying different meanings. In this way, the photographic material and the virtual image will be analyzed, and distinctions will be noted regarding the aesthetic experience, specifically regarding the self-portrait and the selfie. © Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities.

Field trip report to Barbican Art Gallery & Saatchi Gallery

Barbican – Art Gallery: Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, 16 March 2016 – 19 June 2016

The exhibition was curated by British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK. Exhibition includes photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand, Raymond Depardon, Jim Dow, Akihiko Okamura, Frank Habicht, Bruce Davidson, Candida Hofer, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Parr has selected photographs by international photographer’s images that represent Britain. They are a mix from old to new images, everyday views that typify the UK from the 1930s to the present day. Petrol pumps, to people playing football at local community match, high street shops, people on the peace march of the 1960s. The common appear unusual as things have changed over time. The exhibition is not only a collection of interesting photographs, they are a documentary of social history and political and cultural events. Over time life styles and occupations have changed.

Details of the photographers and the list of thier photographs exhibited 17922strangefamiliarwalltexts

Newspaper reviews and reports about the exhibition

Two very different nations in one: Britain as seen by foreign photographers – review. Daily Telegraph review of the exhibition, including some of the photographs from the exhibition. By Mark Hudson, 14 March 2016

How Britain is really viewed by the rest of the world – in pictures. Monday 14 March 2016 Guardian review of the exhibition

Britain through the lens of outsiders by David Chandler, 19 February 2016, FT Magazine

Details of the event

Also or shows some of the images with recordings that accompany the photographs

Photographs from the exhibition on the Magnum Photos web site


Some of the photographers and their works that made an impression on me:

Raymond Depardon

Photographs of Glasgow taken in 1980. Colour photographs, very stark images showing a derelict Glasgow with steel skies and boarded up buildings. They are photographs that show a bleak and social down at heal Glasgow.

SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.

Jim Dow

Photographs of shops, buildings and the inside of buildings. I like this photograph, it looks like an aquarium that has jackets bobbing in the tank.


Covent Garden Tailor Shop, London, England 1986 by Jim Dow, htp://

Akihiko Okamura


Tea and biscuits were provided by local citizens during the Battle of the Bogside. Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (August 1969) by Akihiko Okamura

Frank Habicht


Alice Ormbsy Gore, 1969 Hyde Park London. Photograph by Frank Habicht


Hyde Park Stones in the Park, London 1969 by Frank Habicht


Bruce Davidson

Photographs of London in 1960, plus photographs of people going about their business outside London, at the seaside Brighton.

UK. London. 1960. Man holding curry sign.
UK. London. 1960. Man holding curry sign.
UK. London. 1960. Bus conductor woman with ticket machine.
UK. London. 1960. Bus conductor woman with ticket machine.

Bruce Gilden

Portrait photographs taken 2013 and 2014, the images are unsettling because the heads virtually take up the whole frame, and the face of the subject are staring straight back at you, making me feel uncomfortable.

GB. West Bromwich. 2014. Andy, from Newcastle, at the bus station.
GB. West Bromwich. 2014. Andy, from Newcastle, at the bus station.


GB. Romford, Essex. Sherry. 2013.
GB. Romford, Essex. Sherry. 2013.

Candida Hofer

B+W images of Liverpool and the people of Liverpool.öfer/


Liverpool XVI (1968) by Candida Hofer

Henri Cartier-Bresson


GB. London. Coronation of George VI. 12th May, 1937.
GB. London. Coronation of George VI. 12th May, 1937.

Shinro Ohtake

The style of Ohtake and the everyday subject matter is reminiscent of William Eggleston, a photographic style I like.


Shinro Ohtake / Courtesy of Take Ninagawa Gallery. From the series UK77: Digging my Way to London, 1977



Lens Focal Length – Influence on photograph

Focal length, is described in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a photographic lens. It is a calculation of an optical distance from the point where light rays converge to form a sharp image of an object to the digital sensor or 35mm film at the focal plane in the camera. The focal length of a lens is determined when the lens is focused at infinity.


A lens is described as normal, wide or long.  To identify and calculate if a lens is a normal or standard lens is dictated by the size of the photographic sensor or film negative.  A normal lens is approximately with a focal length equal to the diagonal length of  the sensor plate or film negative.  A -will have a focal length shorter than diagonal of the camera sensor plate and a long lens will have a focal length longer than the diagonal.

The focal length tells us the angle of view—how much of the scene will be captured—and the magnification—how large individual elements will be.


The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle or field of view and the higher the magnification, the camera has to be further away from the subject to focus the image. Less distortion or ‘bending’ of images.

The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle or field of view and the lower the magnification,  the camera can be up close to the subject to focus the image. Greater the distortion or ‘bending’ of images.

18mm focal length

A photograph taken with an 18mm focal length, sometimes known as a wide angle lens will capture a wide area, subject items in the photograph will appear as if they are further away from the camera when compared to a longer focal lenses such as 35mm, 55mm, or 80mm.

When taking photograph of a standing person with a wide angle lens, the head of the subject is in-line with the camera lens will look near normal, but the body will appear slightly shortened due to the perspective and distortion created by wide angle lens.

When using a 18mm focal length lens, taking a photograph of the full front of a church from ground to roof, the building at camera level will be the least affected, but the perspective of the walls above the ‘eye-level’ will appear to slope up and tilt backwards.

35mm focal length

This lens is often used on fixed focus compact cameras because it is a compromise between a wide angle lens and a standard 55mm lens. The curvature and distortion is noticeable when objects are photographed close to the camera. But has the benefit of taking wide landscapes.

55mm focal length

55mm focal lens, sometimes called the standard lens captures a field of view similar to the human eye field of view. Subject items will appear closer than the 18mm or 35mm lens.

The shorter the focal length of the lens, the greater the depth of field. For the same f-stop compared to lens with long focal length that has a shallower depth of field. This lens has some distortion of perspective, but it is much less noticeable than 18mm focal length lens, typically the photographer is standing further away from the object, and the smaller field of view decreases the change in perspective, unless one is taking a photograph of a tall building from near the base of the building looking up to the sky. Then you will see some distortion of perspective.

80mm focal length

80mm focal length lens the object is magnified, subjects further away appear much closer, and the field of view is narrower than a 55mm lens. There is less distortion of perspective.

Many portrait photographers prefer to use a lens around the 100-150mm focal length. This is because of the shallow depth of field, a portrait usually does not want to have distracting background elements clearly visible, but thrown out of focus.

In these series of experimental shots the subject was stood against a wall, the camera settings remained the same, the only thing that changed was the focal length of the camera lens. Camera used was a Nikon D3100, ISO-200 F-stop f/5.6, exposure 1/500 second.


Another reason for using a longer focal length lens is that the longer the lens, the less distortion of the image. A wide angle lens can slightly alter the proportions of the face, the portraits face appear slightly wider compared to the height of the face.


A recent article that was published evaluating portrait photographs with different focal length lenses (50, 85, 105mm). The images were tightly cropped to show only the face that filled the picture. The faces taken with the longer 105mm focal length viewers found to be more attractive than wider angle 50mm lens shots of the same face.




Portrait Photography & Portraiture – background

The aim of a portrait is to capture and create a representation of a person, the face and its expression is predominant. A portrait is intended to capture the character or essence of a person, their personality as well as their likeness, a portrait can even tell a story about an individual.   A portrait often shows a person looking directly out and at the viewer with the intention to connect and engage the subject with the viewer.

A search on the internet for images of photographic portraits finds mostly images of head shots or head and should shots. There are even less that are photographs from the waist up.

What I consider makes a good portrait.

The portrait of the person is the main subject, recognisable, and not too artistic, because then it ceases to be a portrait but becomes a photographic composition with a person. Portrait photography in my opinion is very different from informal candid photograph snaps of people doing things or attending events.

My intention with portrait photography is to create a good likeness, with something that the portrait sitter recognises about themselves and others recognise as that person.   I hope that my portraits also say something about the individual, their character and mood at the time of sitting, have an artistic and creative element, but not too manufactured.

History of Portraits

The portrait has been around since man has been able to draw and paint. The portrait has been a method to remember people, what they look like. Through the ages portrait paintings became popular with the rich and famous, royalty, nobility, religious leaders or military leaders. Portraits were a means of immortalising themselves and a method to demonstrate their wealth power or importance, to others. Painting remained a skilled trade, and not something anyone could practice as a hobby. Only the rich could afford portraits by well established artists that produced paintings of quality likeness.

With the introduction of photography individual and family portraits were possible and affordable by many. The time taken to produce photographic portraits compared to paintings was considerably less. Photographic portraits was available for the majority of people. The high quality image and the relatively small size pictures also made portraits something that could be easily carried around or sent in a letter. The photographic medium made portraiture a popular subject and many photographic studios, shops business were set up. Many families had their portraits taken at to special times remember significant or occasions such as, religious festivities, birthdays, weddings, social events.

The First World War popularised portrait photography and many portrait studio businesses started up. They offered service men portrait photographs that would be given to wives, sweethearts and families as a keep sake, and the wives, sweethearts and families had their portraits taken to send to their ‘boys’. Also when troops were overseas photographic businesses set up to take portraits of the soldiers to send back to show how well they were getting on.

As photography developed, equipment became smaller, portable and more affordable more people could take their own photographs on holidays the formal family portrait photographs became less popular, the candid shots of family members having fun took over.

Portrait photography is still considered an important role in business and education. Schools regularly employ the services of photographic companies to take portraits of children for their school records and as a means of raising school funds. Businesses use portrait photographs for publicity material, press releases and photographic ID.

The government uses portrait photographs for photographic identity for passports, driving licences, and disabled car badges etc. These photographs are very prescriptive and have rules that have to be followed, they are designed for identification purposes, not artistic interpretation or quality.


Famous portrait photographers:

Richard Avedon (1923-2004), American photographer, born and lived in New York. Plain white sometimes grey background studio portraits. High contrast that shows the subjects facial features, wrinkles and freckles. Some of the portraits the subjects are holding or carrying items such as a butcher wearing blood stained apron and cleaver, soldiers carrying guns.   The majority are solo portraits of people Avedon though interesting to photograph, some of the subjects were famous and influential people such as Andy Warhol, Ronald Reagan. There portraits that have more than one person such as Duke & Duchess of Windsor (Edward & Mrs Simpson).

I like the style of clear backgrounds the sharp focusing in on the subject, for the individuals that I don’t recognise I wonder and want to know the story behind the photograph, why that person?

David Bailey (1938- ), English photographer famous for photographing the swinging 60s, celebrities and pop stars of the 1960s and 1970s. These works were mostly black and white photographs with white backgrounds. His more recent portrait works are mostly colour, with backgrounds that set a scene or attempt to tell a story about the subject. The stark white backgrounds, B+W photos with high contrast are similar in style as Avedon.

Bert Stern. (1929-2013) American photographer, born and lived in New York. Self-taught commercial photographer.

Inge Morath (1923-2002) Austrian-born, lived in Germany during the War years. 1951 moved to London, 1953 moved to France, joined the she joined the Magnum Photos Agency. 1962 moved to America

Philippe Halsman, (1906-1979) Born in Latvia, moved to France in 1930, after the War he emigrated to America. Halseman took many iconic photographs of Salvador Dali and Albert Einstein, some of his photographs were inspired by the surreal art movement and featured Dali.

Bill Brandt (1904-1983) German born, British photographer. His portraits are characterised by atmospheric lighting with backgrounds and props to help describe the person.

Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015) American photographer known for her portraiture, photojournalism / documentary photography and commercial advertising photography

Arnold Newman (1918-2006) American photographer, his style of portraiture is of individuals in their surroundings, not studio photographs.

Duane Michals (1932- ) Portraits are more experimental, series of portraits in sequences, multiple exposures and the use of mirrors that distort reflections.

Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) Canadian portrait photographer. A lot of his portraits were shot in the studio, with dark backgrounds and atmospheric lighting. In his career he photographed many political leaders such as Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro and personalities of the film industry including Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Humphry Bogart.


Contemporary portrait photographers according to D&M Imaging include:

Joe McNally

Martin Vrabko

Joey Lawrence

Michael Muller

Jeremy Cowart

Top according to the website top100 Photographers these are some of the leading current portrait photographers.

Terry Richardson

Annie Leibovitz ,

Alasdair McLellan


Iconic photograph by Arthur Sasse Einstein’s tongue


Other web resources:

Final Piece – Idea, Execution, Evaluation

The brief:

Produce a series of diptych portraits, the images must individually tell a story about the subject and be accompanied by a still life image of an object that links to the portrait. The subjects of the photographs to be of people from different generation other than students, either younger or older.

The photographs of objects to accompany the portraits should represent, reflect or symbolise something about the individual in the portrait photograph.

The photographs can be colour or B&W, any size film or digital image, studio or on location, using flash or studio lighting.

The prints to be printed to a minimum of A3 for exhibition


My Idea:

Portraits of the elderly generation. I want to try and capture their character, expression and joy. The intention is to photograph faces that have personality, wrinkles and blemishes that time has imposed. I wanted to take close cropped photographs of their faces so that the viewer focuses on their face. I considered taking portraits in a scene or environment that is a component of the composition but discounted the idea because I thought it would detract from the diptych, there would be a second image of an object to compliment the portrait, I did not want too much going on from the final compositions. The lighting effect I wanted to be bright and but not harsh or produce a flattening of features.

The second photograph of the diptych was of an object or item that symbolised and reflected the individual in the portrait and their time in life.

I wanted each photograph to work on its own, the portraits to be engaging, but also I wanted a theme, something to pull the series of photographs together. I used paper party crowns from crackers as a prop to do this. Each paper crown worn was a different colour rather than the same colour worn by all. The paper crowns were to give the idea that they are all enjoying themselves together as if at a party.

The photographs were to be in colour, but with muted tones, reduce the vibrancy. The change and fading of the colours to signify their twilight years.


Did I have to change any of my original idea?

My original idea was for B+W caricature portraits in the style of Lee Jeffries, (see Final Piece Ideas 1. Portrait Experiment in the style of Lee Jeffries). I was not happy with these photographs as portraits, I felt they were interesting photographs, but not portraits that captured anything about the person in the picture.

I revised my original idea and adapted to B+W photographs of elderly ladies, (see Final Piece Idea 2. Development of idea of Black & White photography). I performed some test shots of two elderly ladies. The photographs were missing a warmth or sense of story, they were cold and anonymous. I was also not sure how I could introduce a second photograph of an object that would work in with the B+W portraits.


How I created these images

I created these pictures using a digital SLR camera. The photographs were taken in RAW format so that I could easily pull them into Photoshop and manipulate the pictures in Photoshop.

I used a single studio lamp light bounced of an umbrella to act as the main light source. The brightness was turned down because I did not want to ‘bleach’ the flesh tones or blind the ladies with a strong intense light. The benefit of the studio lamp was that the illumination was constant to take the photos and similar to natural light. I also used a reflector to bounce light on to the face to reduce the shadows created by the studio lamp.

The camera settings for the portrait photographs were all different, details of each portrait photograph:

Orange Crown Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/4.5, Exposure time 1/250 second, focal length 47mm.

Green Crown Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5, Exposure time 1/400 second, focal length 41mm.

Silver Crown Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5, Exposure time 1/250 second, focal length 43mm.

Yellow Crown Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/4.5, Exposure time 1/250 second, focal length 36mm.

I photographed four ladies in turn. The ladies that were able sat in a positioned chair, for two ladies in wheel chairs they moved themselves into position. Each was asked if they were happy to wear a paper crown, and each agreed. I adjusted the lighting to shine where I wanted it strike their face. I worked around each lady taking photographs from various angles, trying to work as quickly as possible so that each person did not get tiered or bored because I took too long. I also chatted with the ladies to help put them at their ease and to try and distract them from being photographed.

For the objects I choose several items that I felt reflected the ladies characters and enhance the portraits. I created a white table and placed in turn a coloured paper crown, upon the crown I placed an object. I used a white table with the hope that some light would reflect up and through the paper crown to give texture and subtle shading to the flat coloured crown. I also used a bright LED beam of light to focus and shine down on the objects also positioned at a variety of angles to the object. The light was moved around and the intensity altered to see what effects it had on the object, create highlights on the objects, to try and make the glass marble sparkle. To illuminate the bright watch face, create light and shadows that emphasise the name tags. Highlights and creation of depth on the model boat.



The camera settings for the object photographs were all different:

Orange Crown and name tags. Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5.6, Exposure time 1/400 second, focal length 55mm.

Green crown and marble. Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5.6, Exposure time 1/100 second, focal length 55mm

Silver Crown and boat. Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5.6, Exposure time 1/640 second, focal length 55mm.

Yellow Crown and fob watch. Canon EOS 450D, ISO-400, F-stop f/5.6, Exposure time 1/400 second, focal length 55mm

The RAW format files for the portraits and the objects were taken into Photoshop and manipulated. The brightness, contrast and levels were adjusted for each image. The saturation was reduced to give the required pale and faded quality of light. The portrait and objects were paired up and each adjusted to be of similar shades and light and colour quality. Then all the paired images were adjusted to be of similar pallet of colours and vibrancy.

Photoshop method used.

  1. Open RAW file.
  2. Duplicate the background layer (Ctrl+J)
  3. Convert to B+W. Image, Adjustments, Black & White (Alt+Shift+Ctrl+B)

The window to convert the layer to B+W is displayed. Change the colour levels to the following

  1. Reds: 112%
  2. Yellows: 32%
  3. Greens: -82%
  4. Cyans: 123%
  5. Blues: 293%
  6. Magentas: 145%
  7. Check the box Tint
  8. Set the Hue 42o
  9. Saturation 19%
  10. Click on Background layer, layer 0 change the drop down from Normal to Soft Light, opacity 100%
  11. Click on layer 1, change the opacity using the slide bar and adjust until it looked right.
  12. Save the final image as a PDS.
  13. The process was repeated for all the portraits and photographs of objects.

A new image was created in Photoshop, the image twice the size of the portrait. The final portrait image was copied and pasted into the left hand side of the new image, the corresponding object image was copied and pasted to the right of the portrait to create the diptych.

The final images were re-sized to A2 (420 x 594 mm or 16.5 x 23.4 inches) then saved as PDFs.



What worked well?

I believe that this series of pictures has worked well this is because I have managed to add character and warmth to the pictures using party crown hats. The crowns worn symbolise the rejoicing and celebration of their lives. The composition style and imagery is similar that also ties the photographs together.

There is a link between all the portraits of the paper crowns, it gives the group of portraits a cohesion. The reduced saturation of colour to all the photographs to give a vintage look and feel. The reduced saturation gives a lightness to the photographs, similar to a sepia tinted photograph. A less intense colouration of a ‘normal’ colour saturated photograph. This style complimented the aged nature of the subjects the fact these ladies were from an earlier generation. The images are in an old photographic style sympathetic for an elderly generation of people. The ladies are in their sunset years.

The ladies all were genuinely happy to have their photographs taken.   It was a change for me and the ladies from our usual routines, we all had fun taking the photographs and talking. I think the enjoyment we had is captured in the portraits, you can see a mixture of expressions, reflective and happy. The paper crowns give the photographs a lift, a sense of fun and humour.

The second accompanying photographs were of carefully chosen objects that symbolised or reflected the ladies and the time in their life. The paper crowns symbolise rejoicing and celebrating their life. The paper crowns were used to connect the portraits to the objects. The paper crowns were laid on the table and acted as the backdrop to each of the objects.

The fob watch with no hands that symbolises the long lifetime, and like an old watch the body is starting to break down.  The marble that contains bright speckles of light within it that shows they still have a sparkle within them.  The name tags of signifies friends and family members that are not around or have passed away. The traditional fishing boat that symbolises traveling and journeys or adventures that they have undertaken in their past.

The overall collection of portraits I believe show a gentleness and warmth of the ladies, they are all still young at heart and enjoying life, this can be seen in the collection of images.


How can I improve these pictures?

I am really pleased with these pictures. I was conscious that I did not want to over stay the kindness and good will of the ladies. I would have liked more time with the ladies to try different lighting, possibly altering the studio lighting to enhance the contrast of light and shadow on their faces.

I would have also liked to try a black background in a darkened room and tried to create a more atmospheric or moody Rembrandt style portraits using studio lighting.


NOTE: The photographs ave been printed A3 for display and A4 copies in my course work folder.  The details of each photograph have been included as part of a record of the work.