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Ex 4.5 – family portraits

Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images.

Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part One.

The images below are a screen shot from a Google search on ‘family portraits’.

The majority of these photos are in a studio setting, against white backdrops and look to be tightly orchestrated, though, with groups of people that include children perhaps a degree of set-up is necessary! The subjects have their photo-faces and remind me of references in  Hirsch’s Family Frames to how subjects are pre-conditioned to behave in this self-conscious way for family portraits.

My images below are from a series taken of a friend of my wife’s family over a couple of hours. My objective was to create informal images that spoke about character and place of the family, rather than the non-space of a photo-studio.

Photos taken with Fuji X-T1 and Fujinon lenses, manual exposure and auto-focus.

The main differences to the Google images are: a) the use of a series of photos of individual family members to show the family group. This allows for less formality and subjects that at ease with themselves. b) Natural lighting to add atmosphere, rather than bright studio lighting. Though other images in the shoot did make use of flash, the light was more directional than bright studio lighting. c) The group photo (important to the family) was set outdoors in front of the family farm-house. I’d already spent some time with the group by this time and allowed them to arrange themselves for the shot, rather than directing them. Despite a degree of formality, I feel the relaxed environment allows the characters of the subjects to come through.



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