Inspiration: Dawoud Bey – Class Pictures

After looking through his class pictures, I’ve noticed that most of the students have a similar expression on their faces but with completely different pose that are unique to each student because thats how they feel comfortable. While some also had different expressions with different poses as well. It seems like he focus more on body language and hand positioning while the students who are the center of each portrait, all stare at the camera and never look away from it. Dawoud Bey always went through a process with each student to somehow get to know and understand them, as well as when taking a picture he makes sure they are comfortable at that moment so that the students look more natural in their element. I’ve noticed that every picture is using two point lighting where one is a light source on one side, and the other a reflector to reflect the light on the opposite side to soften up on shadows on the subject. The background in his images are always the element of a student to show what a school can look like and Foreground is always a desk and the subject. When it comes down to his framing its hard to tell but he uses the environment behind the subjects as a way from framing. One seem to use geometric framing, one of them uses shadow framing, and another felt like it was using colors of the background as a frame for the subject. He would study the students actions and attire during the meetings to understand where and how to photograph that person. To be able to understand what to put around them and what colors go with what they wear thats in the environment to be able to give a description of the students with whats around them, how they pose and with they wear.

One thought on “Inspiration: Dawoud Bey – Class Pictures

  1. rmichals

    I think you are correct that Bey uses a main light and some kind of fill. Most of the portraits have a moderate level of contrast. Only the portrait of Shalanta can be said to have dark shadows. I don’t think there was any fill used here.

    In the portrait of Antoine, some of the fill is from having the young man lean against the white board. This reflects onto the side of his face that is against the board creating a soft, complimentary light on his face.


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