The Portrait Element 2: People | Rationale + Initial Ideas

The Brief:
The Portrait Element Part 2: People

Capturing creative portraits is an essential element of editorial photography. You’ve now been working on photographing people for some weeks and have added on a study of interior and exterior spaces to enable you to see and understand the light in your environment. This newest assignment brings you to the next step in understanding the art of storytelling in editorial photography, giving you complete control over whom you are shooting, where you are shooting and how you are shooting. Experiment with different lenses, experiment with different locations and backdrops, take advantage of the studios and all the equipment available to you.

The Assignment Brief:

The observed, formal, detail and environmental portrait are vital components to the editorial portrait. By making specific pictures for each element the viewer gains a deeper understanding of the people being profiled. Your brief is to make separate compelling portraits of one woman and one man, using ALL the four elements above, making a total of 8 images. As always, the people you choose are entirely up to you, but try to make sure they are people you can have repeated access to in case you want to reshoot. 

The Constraints:

  • This project will be shot digitally 
  • Following your inductions to the Metz flashguns, Speedlights and the studio, at least two of your images MUST be lit with flash. Again, choose subject matter that is easy to organise, and locations that are possible to visit within the timescale of the project. 
  • All images will be shot and saved in RAW. 
  • A maximum of 100 images will be shot per subject, to be edited down in tutorials and through peer input. 
  • You will need to provide concise caption information for each image, incorporating the 5 W’s, guidelines found in the Captioning presentation on the Learning Space. 
  • All work will be brought in on a weekly basis to group tutorials 
  • Please generate digital contact sheets of your work to aid in the editing process and to include in your blog as you reflect on your work 

For Assessment:

4 A4 photographic prints will be submitted for each subject you have photographed, making a total of 8 finished prints. These will be submitted in an A4 print box along with the rest of prints you’ve created this term. On the back of each print will be a caption containing a professionally written caption, which will be printed (NOT handwritten) This caption will either be printed onto an adhesive label or otherwise affixed to the print so that the adhesive does not cause the prints to stick together.


For this project we have been tasked with taking two sets of four portraits. One set of a male and the other of a female. I am really excited for this project as we have been given a lot of flexibility in terms of how we can approach photographing our chosen subjects. Something I want to experiment with in this project is using lighting which I haven't done a lot of so far and I would like to build up confidence with whilst photographing subjects I will have repeated access to. 

I want to keep relatively open at the moment in terms of the kinds of portraits I will take as I want my research to give me lots of approaches and techniques to consider. As I have taken a lot of portraiture before and really want to allow myself to approach it differently for this project. 

Format of images - Digital, 10x8 at some point using formal lighting in studios and location lighting
Conducting research - Look at books, websites, journals
Length of research - Ongoing until creation of final images I am happy with of each subject and will write about inspiration as I come across it, after initial research session in the library I will then type up the notes I have taken from it and study images of particular interest further
Preparing for shoots - deciding on location, availability of subject, hiring any lighting, lenses etc. 

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