Inspired By Helen Van Meene

Dutch portrait photographer Hellen Van Meene is well known for her portraits of mainly young girls taken using a film SLR camera. Meene works very technically with light to focus on her subjects in the cold crisp environments she uses. Meene says she specifically chooses subjects who have never modelled before and who aren’t particularly attractive as a challenge for her to give them beauty in her portraits. Describing one of the girls she found in her neighbourhood to photograph she says, “she’s just a girl who’s a bit too chubby, a bit giggly, a bit nervous and insecure”, personally I really like this element to her photography as there are so many well known portrait photographers who just cast beautiful models for their photographs. This approach to photography really appeals to me rather than ultra glamourised fashion photography.

My Interpretations

For my interpretations of Meene’s work based on the photograph below, I used my camera’s flash to control the light where I was shooting these photographs at night. I decided to do this as Meene’s work is very much about the use of light and it plays a big part in the picture I took inspiration from which has a dark background and the subject is very lit up. I also made sure my subject was not looking directly at the camera like in Hellen Van Meene’s photos and I put a blue filter over my photos to give that cool temperature that Meene’s photos have.

So far all I have used is natural lighting in my photography so I decided to try using the flash on my camera for my Hellen Van Meene inspired shots. Like my previous photos I have still used nature as a main component of my portrait photos just to see how the use of an artificial light affects the photos. Personally I really like the results, I know that using proper lighting rather than my camera's flash will have a much better affect on the quality of my pictures but as an initial experiment I really like the way it works with emphasising my subject and her features picking up colour and form rather than texture.

Inspired By Marta Bevacqua

Italian photographer Marta Bevacqua's work mainly consists of fashion, beauty and fine art portraiture taken and distributed digitally. Marta works very much with nature which she says inspires her, and she also uses natural lighting and shadows that the nature around her subjects creates. Her photos are very conceptual and constructed, each being a representation of feelings and thoughts she had when deciding to go and take the photo. Which brings this dark mood, atmosphere and story that all her photos have. 

Using Marta's photos with leaves as inspiration I went out and tried taking some more of my own portrait photos using some of the techniques and ideas that Marta uses in her work, including things like the way I framed my subject and their body language in relation to the nature around them...

For my photos I really focused on how my subject can interact with nature, using natural lighting and working on composition. I really think I am getting a feel for my preferred style of photography now, I love using nature and natural lighting in my photos and now want to focus on other photographic techniques to enhance the photos I am taking.

Inspired By Thomas Ruff

German photographer Thomas Ruff is well known for his half length portrait photos which are all taken like passport pictures with the top edge of the photograph just above the subject's hair. His photos are taken in a studio with a 9 x 12 cm negative using flash. Most of his photos were of his students and friends and they often had emotionless expressions and are face on. I really like this simplistic approach to portrait photography and for my interpretation using my friend Katie I used natural lighting against a white background and framed my subject in the same way as Ruff did to create what despite not having used a studio, film camera or artificial lighting like Ruff is quite a similar interpretation of his photos in terms of how I've presented my subject and the composition of the photo.


Another 3 Favourites From The "50 Photographers of Note" Powerpoint

William Eggleston

I like this picture because of the way the colours compliment each other, notably the shades of yellow against the earthy browns and reds. I also think the use of composition is very powerful in this picture rather than the scenery and the objects themselves. However despite being more about these two elements in this photo you still can tell generally in what kind of place this was taken and what kind of mood there is. 

Tony Ray Jones

I like this picture because it really gives a feel for the situation where it was taken and there really is a story to it that you can interpret. I also like the use of black and white because I feel it adds rawness and a mood to the picture which is quite ironic considering that it is of a beauty pageant which is actually quite perceived as quite a glamourised thing but instead we see the contestants waiting in a dingy room where the rest of the people in the shot don't seem too taken by them.

Andre Kertesz

The last picture I have found that I like is this more surreal photograph where you can only see the legs and feet of two women who look like they are dangling over rocks and water. Again I like the use of black and white which really emphasises and contrasts the light and dark and the shapes of the women's legs and feet. I find this particularly captivating because of the composition and how sharp and bold every part of this more simple photograph is.

Through observing these photos I've really learned about the power of composition in photography and will incorporate and consider composition more when taking my own photographs in the future


Mini College Shoot | Portraiture

Inspired by some of Alessio Albi's work in which subjects are within different plants

During lesson today we used 35mm cameras to take some black and white photographs that we will be developing in the future ourselves. As well as taking these film photos I brought my Canon 600d with me so I could get some digital shots and used the opportunity to experiment with different backgrounds and also composition in portrait photography. 

3 Favourites From The "50 Photographers Of Note Powerpoint"

Sally Mann's photographs are big black and white photos mainly of her children. Her photos to me convey more dark themes that you wouldn't expect considering most of her famous photos are of her three children. This picture is one of my favourites because it is such a juxtaposition to see such a pretty young girl with a cigarette that you naturally associate with completely different types of people. I also love the use of natural light, the composition and the black and white to create this grungy shot.

This still life photo by Wolfgang Tillmans appeals to me because even though it isn't of anything particularly interesting the combination of items in the picture makes you wonder where this window sill is and what kind of room it is in or who it belongs to. I also like the cool colours and composition of this photo and the use of natural light. 

Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (The Kiss)

This very famous picture taken by Robert Doisneau is just such a great picture I think because you can see this very real moment taking place between these two young people in the hustle and bustle of the city of Paris. The composition is really great and frames the couple really well, I also like how the movement of the other people surrounding them is blurred so you really focus on this moment captured in the centre.


Depth Of Field

Wide Depth Of Field

This picture shows a wide depth of field which means it is taken on a lower aperture setting. This lets more light into the lense creating more distance in terms of focus on what you're photographing. As you can see in this picture that I took of a wasp everything that isn't directly in focus is blurry. Therefore the lower your f-stop the less in focus and more blurred everything else that isn't in focus is.

Narrow Depth Of Field

A picture with a narrow depth of field is the complete opposite in that instead of one part of a photo being in focus everything is more sharp and there looks like there is less distance between what is in the photograph. This is because a higher f-stop is used meaning less light goes into the lens.


Inspired By Alessio Albi

Italian portrait photographer Alessio Albi’s photographs are stunning images of models usually in natural surroundings with meticulous detail in the use of earthy colours between the models and their surroundings and the way nature interacts with them. Albi uses natural light and often has to be very patient to get the exact shapes and volumes that he wants from it. Albi uses a lot of low lit outside settings to add to the surreal atmosphere and help take away any detail that would distract the viewer’s eye from the subject. 

For my interpretations I’ve also taken my pictures in lower lit settings with natural light and experimented with how my subjects can interact with nature. I’ve also tried to work with colours between my subjects and their surroundings.

This above photo was directly inspired by Albi’s photo on the top left called Erica. I took it on a cloudy day to get a more low lit shot like Albi’s and found similar looking plants for my subject to stand within. Like Albi I have used a low aperture setting to really keep the focus on my subject and have used earthy colours in my shot that compliment each other.

I took these photographs of Pheobe to practice taking portrait photos and using Alessio Albi's work as inspiration. I did this by experimenting with natural backgrounds and how my subject can interact with them. I've learnt through this what I prefer aesthetically and will use this to develop my own style of photography.

I took this portrait photograph using natural lighting in an environment with colours I feel compliment the subject. This is my first real attempt at portrait photography and it does represent the style I would like to have as a photographer in terms of using natural lighting and scenery to compliment the subject.


3 Sources Of Portraiture Inspiration

Alessio Albi | Erica

I love the use of natural light in Alessio's photographs and the way his subjects interact with the nature around them both complimenting one another. I also love the use of earthy and natural colours in his pictures. I like this photo in particular because you still focus on the subject despite everything around and in front of her. Everything you should focus on is so sharp and crisp despite the duller colours used.

I really like the use of natural light in this picture by Neil Krug of famous singer Lana Del Rey.  I also like the composition in this piece. The vintage look to this picture really appeals to me especially the dimensions of it which give a polaroid effect to it.

Bob Willoughby | Audrey Hepburn

What I like about this picture so much is the structured composition created by the car and how candid a shot this is of famous actress Audrey Hepburn who was known as more demure than other Hollywood starlets which I think this picture really conveys. 

What I've taken from all 3 pictures is that I like the use of natural lighting and the composition with a subject in portrait photography and hope to bring these elements into my own work.