Portraits – Week 4

This week saw a new avenue of photography for me, portraits. I had not planned to take portraits for my final project, but the skills that I learnt discovering a new method of photography can be applied to my project.

85mm, 50mm and 35mm Portraits

(These photos were all taken with a Nikon D7000 which has a 1.5x cropped sensor, e.g 50mm x 1.5 = 75mm).

This test was to see the change that zoom has on the relation between subject and background. Between each photo, I moved forward towards my subject to maintain my framing, a mid-shot, waist to head. The effect that this has is on how wide the shot is. The 85mm only shows the elevator, the 50mm shows a little side of stair and the 35mm shows the entirety of the stairs. Based on this test, I wouldn’t take a portrait with any less than a 50mm zoom as the 35mm shows subject distortion. I am taller than the subject so Ned’s waist appears to be smaller than it is. An extreme version of this is the ‘fisheye’ lens photo which has a very wide view. This can be seen better in the full body shots.

The door looks further away as I approach and the zoom gets smaller. The 35mm photo shows more clearly the distortion a wider lens has on an image. The subject’s feet seem tiny compared to the rest of him, which is not true as the 85mm zoomed photo shows.

Connotations from a still subject

Everything in a photo has a meaning, nothing is done by mistake, and all photos can be read top to bottom. After completing the tasks, I made my subject stand in the snow to try and capture a well-exposed image whilst practising my portrait skills.

DSC_0902 - edit

The subjects face expression is blank, but a lot can be gained from this photo. The way he is dressed, his body-language, the props of the cigarette and camera and the location all connote something about the subject and suggest a narrative.


The same goes for this photo. Again the subject has a blank expression, but the background as well as his dress, piercings etc. all tell a story.

In Conclusion

Combing these two exercises, the relationship between the subject and the background is important when doing portraits or when photographing anything, as the background is another method of putting meaning into an image. Thinking of background is another aspect of my final project I must consider.

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