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Oxford School of Photography
insights into photography
Category Archives: Portrait Photography
You could do this…no really you could
February 26, 2019Posted by on
I found this article on the BBC website about Richard Bevan who having moved to small town USA decided to photograph as many of the residents as he could. As Phil Coomes says in his article
“Photographers love to travel but sometimes it pays to look at what is close at hand and document the community you live in. Richard Beaven has done just that, turning his lens on the residents of Ghent, about 120 miles north of New York.
Beaven has worked on the project for a year or so and in that time he has made 275 portraits, about 5% of the population of Ghent.
“The catalyst for the project was the town’s bicentennial in 2018 and creating an archive for it,” says Beaven.
News of the project spread through the town, with one shoot leading to another and only a handful declining the opportunity to take part.”
It reminded me of Martin Stott, a long time friend from the old days of the darkroom. He has recently rediscovered his photography by embracing digital and has been on a few courses with me. I always preach that finding a project is the way to make your photography important to you and to others. Martin lives on Divinity Road in East Oxford and has started a project to photograph everyone who lives on his street. If you know Divinity Road you will know this is no mean feat.
Back to Richard…Each portrait is accompanied by the subject’s name and the amount of time they had spent living or working in Ghent at the time of being photographed….”The portraits are of individuals. While I take care to select appropriate environments, I provide minimal direction in terms of clothing or what the subjects happen to be carrying at the time.”
So what is stopping you from doing this? You live somewhere, a street, a village, a block of flats, where you live is a place you can build a project around. For Richard the motivation was “The catalyst for the project was the town’s bicentennial in 2018 and creating an archive for it,”
But for Martin it was as much about meeting the neighbours he didn’t know and to build a picture of where he lives,
“My aim with this project is to photograph everybody who lives on Divinity Road, Oxford, over about a two year period. I started in July 2018. This may be as individuals, couples, families or groups of people living in the same house such as students. Divinity Road is a long street and a diverse one. As a resident for over 31 years I still only know a relatively small proportion of the people who live on it. As well as making a photographic record this helps me to get to know more of my neighbours.”
The extraordinary story behind the iconic image of Che Guevara and the photographer who took it
January 28, 2019Posted by on
I have recently returned from Cuba where on every street, or hat, t-shirt, flag or poster there was one image. That image was of Che, taken by Alberto Korda a Cuban photographer. This image is perhaps the most reproduced photographic image in the world, I can’t think of another that is so ubiquitous.
The story of this image, when and why it was taken and it’s passage to iconic status is fascinating.
The Che image was made on March 5, 1960, at a funeral service for the 136 people who were killed when a French ship carrying arms to Havana was sabotaged and blown-up. Crowds filled the street of Havana, and Korda was there working for the newspaper Revolución. As Castro’s funeral oration droned on Korda approached the speakers’ platform. With Castro were other leaders of the revolution, the French writers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and, of course, Che. When Korda got close to the platform, he noticed that Che — who had been standing in the back of the stage — had moved forward.
“I remember his staring over the crowd on 23rd street,” Korda says. Staring up, he was struck by Guevara’s expression which he says showed, “absolute implacability,” as well as anger and pain. …..
The “viral” effect
This all changed one day in early 1967 when an Italian publisher, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, came with a letter from the Cuban government asking Korda to help find him a portrait of Che. Korda pointed to the print hanging on the studio wall, saying that it was the best one he had ever taken of Che…..
The tipping point
But the tipping point for the image was in October 1967, when Che was executed in Bolivia. Demonstrations broke out around the world condemning the murder and Feltrinelli printed up thousands of Che posters and sold them to protesters. The photo was now called Guerrillero Heroico, and it next surfaced in 1968 on New York City subway billboards as a painting by artist Paul Davis advertising the February issue of the Evergreen Review magazine.
Photography Awards and Competitions
November 27, 2017Posted by on
It is said this is the season to be merry, I know, whoever said that was mistaken, but it seems to me this is the season to be inundated with the outcome of photography competitions and awards. In the past I have produced separate posts on each but I have decided to roll them into one this time as it does all get a bit boring otherwise.
Landscape photographer of the Year
Travel Photographer of the Year
Nature Photographer of the Year National Geographic
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
International Garden Photographer of the Year
Photographer of The Year Panoawards
Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Award
This one is always a winner
Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize
November 16, 2017Posted by on
It is that time of year again when the various organisations hand out prizes for ‘best ofs’. I am rather conflicted by the whole process of photographic, or in fact any creative activity, held up to competition. I am never sure what wins is worthy nor that the winners are understood as the photographer intended. Many of these photography competitions stretch the idea of photography such that images grabbed from Google Streetview have been awarded prizes in the past. However, I can also accept that competition can push some photographers to achieve much better and that is to be lauded
The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize is one that always provides much room for debate about the value of the winning entries. Once all you needed was a redheaded subject holding an animal, this year the portrait that one third prize is of an android.
This is the overall winner and many would argue that it is deserved.
Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian, always a reliable critic says:
A handful of politicians, several refugees, various awkward adolescents, two skinheads, the inevitable young girl holding a furry animal and, breaking with tradition, an android – it’s the Taylor Wessing time of year again
This year’s photographic portrait prize, the first to allow digital submissions as well as prints, draws 59 images from 5,717 entries. As a show, it hangs together pretty well, not always the case in the past. The overall standard seems higher, there are fewer celebrities – always a good thing – and most of the portraits of refugees and asylum-seekers tend towards the intimate rather than the concerned.
The exhibition he mentions is at the NPG
16 November 2017 to 8 February 2018
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is the leading international photographic portrait competition, celebrating and promoting the very best in contemporary portrait photography.
The Prize has established a reputation for creativity and excellence, with works submitted by a range of photographers, from leading professionals to talented amateurs and the most exciting emerging artists.
The selected images, many of which will be on display for the first time, explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations. The exhibition of fifty-nine works features all of the prestigious prize winners including the winner of the £15,000 first prize.
Second Prize Winner
Third Prize Winner
All the major papers and photographic sources have reviews on this, take your pick
Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2016
November 16, 2016Posted by on
I know you have been waiting for this, now the winner has been announced
FIRST PRIZE: Claudio Rasano
Katlehong Matsenen 2016 from the series Similar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare by Claudio Rasano, February 2016
© Claudio Rasano
First Prize: £15,000
Swiss-Italian photographer Claudio Rasano was born in 1970, Basel, Switzerland. The portrait, which is part of the series Similar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare was taken in Johannesburg, South Africa and focuses on issues of preserving individuality in the context of school uniforms. The photograph was shot in daylight, outdoors and in front of a plain white paper background. The sitter for this particular pigment print is eighteen year old Katlehong Matsenen.
any comments about school photography gratefully accepted
Shortlist announced for Taylor Wessing portrait prize
September 20, 2016Posted by on
The Taylor Wessing portrait prize is one of this country’s premier photography awards. It is always controversial with those outside the art firmament. If your idea of a portrait is something that flatters the subject then the annual winners of this award will disappoint you. Long ago I gave up trying to understand or justify the shortlist and winners and so now like just to alert you to what is coming in Taylor Wessing world.
Three photographers have been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. The prize winners and the winner of the John Kobal New Work Award will be announced at an award ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday 15 November 2016.
The Guardian is one of the outlets that regularly features TW and so this article and images come from there
The shortlisted photographs were chosen from 4,303 submissions entered by 1,842 photographers from 61 countries.
The annual prize, which began in 1993, is considered one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and is judged anonymously. It is open to professional and amateur photographers.
After the winner of the £15,000 prize is announced on 15 November, the shortlisted works will form part of a wider prize show at the National Portrait Gallery between 17 November and 26 February.
Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the gallery, said: “In an exhibition remarkable for its range of subjects and styles, the quality of this year’s shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level at which photographers across the world are working today.”
You can read the Guardian article herehere is a link to the NPG and exhibition details
here are some links to previous Taylor Wessing Awards
Six Photographers Each Have A Photo Session With The Same Man
January 6, 2016Posted by on
This is an interesting exercise in understanding how photographers approach a shoot based on the information given. The preconceptions we all have about people based on what little we know, and how that effects the way we respond to that person both personally and photographically is the basis of this project. I have to say I am glad I wasn’t one of the photographers, I would have felt cheated and manipulated, but then again maybe that is what we as photographers do to our subjects, manipulate them to fit our idea of who they should be.
When six photographers are tasked with taking portraits of the same man, the results are astonishing. Here’s the twist: each photographer is told a different (fake) personal history of the man. As portrait photographers, it’s their goal to portray this man, as they see him, in a single photograph. Though he comes to each photo session dressed exactly the same, carries himself the same way, and speaks with each photographer in the same manner, the photographers treat him differently and photograph him completely differently depending on the background story.
Read more here
Amazing portrait photography by young David Uzochukwu
November 25, 2015Posted by on
I would like you to read the next few lines and then look at the pictures and ask yourself why you aren’t creating such interesting images if someone so young is
“My name is David, I’m fourteen years old and living in Luxembourg. I started taking photos a bit more than a year ago, and I know that this is what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life- telling stories through pictures, and using photography to put my thoughts to rest.” ~ David Uzochukwu
I know amazing for someone who is only 14 and has been photographing for a year, he has aged two years since this original article but hey what were you doing when you were 16? see the rest from this article here and go to David’s Flickr page here and here is a link to David’s website
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015
September 16, 2015Posted by on
For a little while now I have written about the refugee crisis and the impact photography has had on the publics’ awareness, so serious and important stuff. However never wishing to be too intense I now have the chance to bring you news of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015. This is a very serious (sorry) portrait award and usually is won by a picture involving an animal, see last years winner and the winner from 2011 As I say it is a serious prize to win, the trouble is usually the majority of people, photographers and ordinary people alike just don’t get it. As with many areas of contemporary art the choices confuse those outside the world of contemporary art, like so many things you need to be in the club. Anyway now there is this years prize. The Guardian article lists all the shortlist contenders, here is what they say about the images and the photographers
Ivor Prickett’s photograph, Amira and her Children, taken at the Baharka refugee camp. Photograph: Ivor Prickett/PA
A photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who fled their village after the area fell under Isis control is on the shortlist for the 2015 Taylor Wessing prize, theNational Portrait Gallery has announced.
Ivor Prickett, a London-based documentary photographer, took the image, Amira and her Children, in northern Iraq in September 2014 while working on an assignment for the UN refugee agency.
Prickett met Amira and her family in their tent at the Baharka camp near Erbil. They had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area.
“I spent some time speaking with Amira about what her family had gone through,” said Prickett. “As they became more comfortable with me being there, they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation.”
Nyaueth 2015 © Peter Zelewski
Peter Zelewski is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer. Born in Detroit, USA, he moved to London in the late 80s and studied Graphic Design at North London Polytechnic. Through his fascination and love of the city, he was drawn to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens. Zelewski now divides his time between graphic design, commercial photography and his personal street portraiture projects. Zelewski’s portrait Nyaueth was taken near Oxford Street as part of his series Beautiful Strangers. Zelewski explains: ‘The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs.’
David Stewart’s portrait of his daughter and her friends. Photograph: David Stewart/PA
The fourth shortlisted work is Five Girls 2014, by David Stewart, a photographer born in Lancaster and based in London. The five girls of the title are his daughter and her friends, a group he first photographed seven years ago when they were about to start their GCSEs.
“I have always had a fascination with the way people interact, or in this case fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls,” he said. “While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.”
Anoush Abrar photo of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid. Photograph: Anoush Abrar/PA
Anoush Abrar, a photographer born in Iran who now lives and teaches in Lausanne, Switzerland, is shortlisted for Hector, a photograph of a young boy inspired by his fascination with Caravaggio, and particularly the artist’s 1608 painting Sleeping Cupid.
“Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid,” he said. “I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series called Cherubs.”
This is what TW say about themselves…The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 is the leading international competition which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world. The selected images, many of which will be on display for the first time, explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations.
With over 2,200 entries, this year’s Prize continues to uphold its reputation for a diversity of photographic styles submitted by a range of photographers, from gifted amateurs to photography professionals, all competing to win one of the four prestigious prizes including the £12,000 first prize.
All four photographs will be included in an exhibition of the best of this year’s entries. The winning photographer, to be announced on 10 November, will receive £4,000 and a commission. The four photographs were chosen from 4,929 submissions entered by 2,201 photographers from 70 countries.
Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, who chaired the judging panel, said: “The strength of the four shortlisted works reflects the outstanding level that photographers across the world are working at today.
“The exhibition will be especially exciting this year as we will be displaying a number of photographs that were submitted as a series of portraits, as well as new and unseen work by acclaimed photographer Pieter Hugo.”
The exhibition of the prize winners and other entrants is at The National Portrait Gallery, London from November 12 to February 21
There are also events going on in support of the award, here is one but you can find the full list here
Weekend Workshop: Classic Photographic Portraits
28 November – 29 November 2015, 11:00-17:00
Please check signage on the day for details
Tickets: £150 (£125 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.
Taking inspiration from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015, hone your skills in this two day practical workshop.
We also have a Portrait Photography Course where you will learn how to take portraits of your family, friends but generally not small animals, nor will we inspire you with images from……
Here is a link to our post about the 2014 TW prize
and here, the 2013 TW prize and the 2012….oh and the 2011 and finally our post about the 2010 We are thorough
Photo Recipes: Scott Kelby’s killer one-light portrait setup
June 16, 2015Posted by on
In his new series in Digital Camera magazine and Digital Camera World, the legendary Scott Kelby reveals some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of some of his favourite images. This month Scott explains how to get a pro-level look to your portraiture without resorting to complex lighting, using just a simple one-light portrait setup.
Words and images by Scott Kelby. You can follow Scott and his work on his blog or on his live photography talk show The Grid. You can also find Scott and his KelbyOne team on their Facebook page and on Twitter as @KelbyOne.
Photo Recipes is inspired by the chapters in my books where I show a photo and discuss how to take a similar shot: what lighting equipment was used, the camera gear and settings, and so on. Here I can expand on what I did in the book, share behind-the-scenes photos, and even talk about the post-processing when appropriate.
Last time we looked at a very simple technique for rigging a remote camera for sports to cover areas that are either hard to access, impractical or unsafe to have a person standing there (Of course, it can also be used for weddings or any occasion where you need a second shooter but don’t have one). This time, we’re lighting a portrait.
When it comes to lighting, I’m really one of those ‘less is more’ guys. My lighting set-ups tend to be mostly one light. In this case, we’re going to do a really simple one-light shoot – perhaps the easiest one you’ll find, because it would really be hard to position the light incorrectly using this set-up.
The idea behind this look is to create the bright shadowless look of a ring flash, without the harsh light and dark halo shadows usually associated with a ring flash – and even without actually using a ring flash.