Before Beyonce’s iconic pregnancy photograph of her bump came out, 2 decades beforehand Annie Leibowitz took Demi Moore’s pregnancy photo year 1991. It was a huge issue worldwide then. Reactions were spilt into two at the time, seen as scandalous, indecent, pornographic by some while the other half praised that they featured a pregnant women representing motherhood in a way not seen before in a magazine cover and the media as a whole. Demi Moore’s pregnancy photo sparked a movement to photographers that would copy the same concept of pregnancy in nudity, and most importantly the photograph opened a door to what was not represented before on the media; capturing a woman’s pregnancy in the form of expressing the beauty of it and shedding light to women’s sexuality. As for Beyonce’s pregnancy photograph, that was sensational since it was posted on her Instagram account, she uses fine art as references and inspirations for her photos. This one of her pregnancy she used Paula’s Modersohn-Becker’s painting “Self portrait on her sixth wedding anniversary” as a reference, in the painting Paula is holding her pregnant belly as did Beyonce and both have a direct gaze to the viewers. When comparing Demi Moore’s and Beyonce’s pregnancy photo shoots, the photographers used two different approaches in lighting to photograph their subjects. Annie Leibowitz used broad light on Demi, the lighting technique emphasized the right side of her face and ears, her left hand that covered her breast and her belly. The photographs composition was taken horizontally and Demi is off centered however the way she composed her pose by having one leg more front balances the photo as her body faces sideways from the light. As for Awol Erizku’s photograph of Beyonce he seemed to have used front light, there isn’t much emphasize of shadow and light on his subject so it’s a bit flat but what makes the photo stand out is the props used for the photoshoot. At first I wasn’t sure if the flower props symbolize something but looking at the photograph to me before learning a bit about the concept behind the photoshoot, I felt as though it represents how she feels about womanhood and motherhood, its vivid and beautiful and they showed their vision to world to see.
Yousuf Karsh portraits are all black and white but never is it to much black or to much white. Most of his portraits all have a very simple background so he never has to much to work with and never over power the subject. Most of the images seem to have a feeling of hope, power, and happiness. Which could explain why he uses three-quarter views, which can be used to show those emotions just right. Some of his images have 3 point and 2 point lighting, very few have butterfly light but most use rembrandt, short and broad light, but a lot of his subject look very professional.
Nadav Kander is a bit more wild with some of his pictures, it has more going on in some of them with a lot more colors. In some of the portraits he uses light and shadows as a way to outline the subject and he also doesn’t hide the subjects shadow, he embraces it to be apart of the background. He also using a lot of the three-quarter view as well as something close to silhouettes on the subjects faces and bodies which doesn’t seem to over power the portrait and gives it a unique and colorful look with keeping a sense of seriousness and importance on the subjects face.
The Martin Luther King Jr. portrait is one that i enjoy and its example of Karshs work to where it shows hope, strength, and power through a three-quarter view with a simple background where the light separates the subject from the background with 3 point lighting.
The other is one I like from Kanders is the example where he uses one color with different shades of that one color and places an image over the subject, where the person is still the strongest focus.
On the next assignment I hope to use the three-quarter view more often and get the subject to show different emotions while looking away from the camera with or without any distractions being needed.
Yousef Karsh portrait, because of the age, his works are all in black and white, but there is a strong contrast between black and white. His choice of background is simple. Few of his models face him. Many of them are side shots or three-quarter views. He used Rembrandt light more than other light. Some of his portrait works show models with gadgets in their hands, which may represent certain information of the models. This method may help the model relax a bit. Because not everyone is very comfortable in front of the camera. For example, the portrait he took of Audrey Hepburn is very representative. First, he used the method of side shot, the main character in the center. Secondly, butterfly light style was used. Hepburn’s eyes were not completely closed, which gave people a mysterious and sexy feeling.
Nadav Kander portrait. His work is basically colored. But he also gives people a black and white feeling, that is his use of light is very strong. First show, he is a very good use of outline light, the portrait of the shadow is formed by light. Secondly, he used to fill shadow on the face and background. The shadow makes it more comfortable. However, some of his works give people the feeling of AI intelligence, which is very futuristic. I don’t know how he used light to achieve this effect, probably retouching. Many of his works are three quarter view. The models seldom look at the camera lens. It seems that there is another important thing that attracts them. The background is very monotonous, giving a sense of intellectual curiosity. For example, his portrait of the current President of the United States is taken by broad light. Trump’s posture is to sit on a chair and then light falls on the side of the visible ear. But the vision of the theme model is very clear, especially the color of the suit and the color of the chair is very oil painting sense. Trump’s face is half bright and half dark, giving a sense of seriousness.
In the following assignment, I think I will let the model try the three-quarter view and side photos. Then the model was asked not to look at the camera and to let other things distract them. Then uses different light color to achieve different result, then pay attention to shadow.
Enter the work of Nadav Kander. I love the personality of the subject being infused throughout the portraits in the Solitary series. Each is very telling to their attitude at time of the photograph and offers a glimpse at their personality. I believe many of these photos, not all, follow a constructionist approach. In such that they use body language to build a conveyed emotion and develop atmosphere. There are so many to choose from here but I will focus on the Yorgos Lanthimos I portrait. The contrast from his blackened silhouette to the white background is stark, but almost evokes the feel of a missing persons poster. That is until the slither of light that enters the frame, cuts directly across his face to reveal a single eye gazing at you. Mystery, suspense, and drama all immediately come to mind. I would definitely like to replicate the use of a single “slithering” light in our portraits during lab.
Yousef Karsh has worked with some very polarizing figures. After viewing the samples in his gallery, one could say his calling card aesthetic is that of black and white portraiture. I elect to speak on the Ernest Hemmingway portrait. I love the level of contrast all throughout this photograph. The striations in his hair, his forehead wrinkles, the fluff of his sweater, and heft of his beard, each adds another layer of texture to this photograph. These are definitely brought to light (pun intended) by the use of at least a key, and fill (light) to create then brighten the shadows. His body is positioned straight forward but his head turns slightly, yet not enough to re-create a three-quarters view.
Dawoud Bey high school portraits consists of each subjects to make eye contact with camera. Each of the subjects are centered, therefore our eyes don’t wander and just stay focused on the subjects. The photographs have a certain aesthetic feel to them that are very appealing to the eye, they have a soft look to it, as if a filter was added but I doubt it. The background seem to have a pale colour which contrasts the foreground (subjects) who have a colours that have a pop. Each subject has a story to tell whether it is a serious one or maybe a funny one that would put a smirk on your face. Bey kept the images tightly cropped where either their whole bodies were showing or it was shot from waist and above. Bey analyzed each of their clothing and placed them in a part of the classroom that complemented their clothing. Bey’s photographic technique is the type of technique that appeals the most to me, I enjoy the aesthetic of it and the way the subjects are set up in the photographs really makes the images seem alive and full of emotion.
Dawoud Bey high school portraits have this consist theme of having the object looking at the camera. Not only that but Dawoud does make us look at the eyes first then the whole picture. His pictures are center so our eyes don’t wander around. We can also see that his portraits display some type of attitude because the way the subjects are posed. So this give us a little of the subject personality of each person. The lighting also what makes this portraits to make the face to pop out more. The usage of shadow in the face aren’t too dark. But soft so none of the photos are focusing in one location by having one area much darker than the other.Also the blurry background. Makes us the auditions to look at the person makes focus on them more than any other place in the photo. But, Bey isn’t making the whole background to be blurry so none it can’t make out what it is. Instead, he want us to know what it is without losing focus on the person. It makes us understand who these people are, and what they do. It gives us a little story to go by. And makes understand who they are as people without having to tell us anything. I also noticed by looking through gallery class portraits, that none of his picture the subject have warm colors. But one is different, which is Shalanta but this photo is different from other is because the background is much darker but her clothes have this light color that is able to make her stand out more. Which something interesting he changed the lighting because the color of clothes have a light color. In the other portraits you can see the other subjects having grey or light colors.
After looking through Dawoud Bey’s Class Pictures Series and listening to his discussion about the series, I can say that he was very methodical in his style. Bey started the series at a high school in Chicago where he met the students as a class first, then had the individuals who wanted to participate enter the room one at a time. He had 45 minutes during the course of the school day to shoot, in this time he utilized natural/umbrella light and a tripod to achieve his desired lighting. The student would enter the room and spend some time writing about themselves, during that time Bey looked at their clothing and placed the subject in an area that complimented them and didnt obstruct his view. He did not read their personal stories before shooting, but through directing was able to compose photos that captured the subject’s essence, expression and gave a heightened experience while maintaining a relaxed pose. Bey also kept the photos tightly cropped around the subject either shooting the whole body sitting in a chair or from the knee or waist up with the subject looking into the camera. He was just as focused on the subject themselves as the environment around them. His portraits were unveiled at a museum in Chicago where the students got to see themselves and their stories in the exhibit. This bought representation of the community into the museum as well as opening it up to members who had never been to the museum before. From his approach to portraiture, I can say that it encourages me to be more methodical. As in having an idea of what I want to see or achieve, getting the subject to be more relaxed by making conversation and finally trying to capture the subject’s humanity or emotion in a photo.
Dawoud Bey’s portrait series, Class Pictures, gives insight to his unique style. The online preview gallery at the Milwaukee Art Museum displays six photographs of various children in classroom environments. For instance, only two of the subjects, Antoine and Kevin, interact physically with something other than a desk in the background. Each subject lay in the foreground, with their attention directed straight forward to the camera. Usha, Omar and Kevin eyes are especially piercing. All are centered in their respective frames, each with qualifying traits that are unique to them. I believe Bey did this purposely, as to give character to each portrait long before a caption was available. Shalanta’s decorative shirt, and long designer nails, and tightly pressed smirk draw the eye in, while Kevin’s zip up shirt reads “FCUK” which at quick glance can be easily confused for profanity, his hat is turned off center, and his body leaned in, as to ask “Is there a problem?”. Omar’s crossed arm stance on his desk, complete with blank stare let’s us wonder if this is a defense mechanism and why, while Antoine’s crossed arm stance, seated with his head tilted, and body leveraging the wall paint a submissive picture with eyes that look as if they are shielding pain but welcoming someone to ask why. The lighting is concise in each portrait, natural light is present by way of the windows in Lauren, Usha, and Omar’s portrait but I suspect the presence of a key and fill light by way of the triangle above the cheek of the shadows in Shalanta’s, and Kevin’s portraits. I would characterize Bey’s portrait style as traditional, but with this series, unconventional subjects.
Dawoud Bey’s photographs of the high school students capture their expressions especially with their eyes; making it seem as though they are looking directly at you. He also captured not only their expressions especially with their eyes but also depending on the subject a part of them that shapes their characteristics as an individual. For example, the girl with the colorful nails and outfit; even though when looking at photographs that have a lot of information to take in especially of rooms that has objects it can be distracting to what the photographer wants to capture; but Bey’s approach on his subjects and thinking how to make the settings of the school work with the subjects he was able to make it work, the settings his subjects were placed in complimented and balanced as a photograph as a whole. From what I can see from Dawoud Bey’s photographs, is that taking a subject’s photo, communication and making them feel comfortable in front of the camera is important. One may have the equipment, a subject, the right lighting and how they would want to direct one’s photograph but if the subject doesn’t feel as though they are in a state of ease and comfortable in their setting and with the photographer the photograph won’t be executed to its potential. Looking at his works and watching his interview, he made me question how can I communicate with my subjects? How can I make them feel comfortable to be in front of the camera? what makes them stand out as an individual? What part of them would I like to capture? What sort of setting would I like my subject to be in? His approach to portrait photography from what I can see involves observation, communication, patience, directing and notably a persons gestures.
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.