Are You Pre-Raphaelite?
Having just completed a portrait shoot for teachers at a local school, you could be forgiven for thinking I was schooled in the paintings of Raphael. Subjects were sat on a stool in front of a coloured backdrop. They were generally turned 45 degrees and asked to turn their heads to look directly at the camera. The Pre-Raphaelites would have been appalled!
In stark contrast to this type of staged portrait photography, you could argue that street photography and environmental portraits are a nod to the Pre-raphaelite movement- full of colour and movement.
I take two messages out of this.
Firstly, it’s horses for courses. If you’re doing portraits for a school administration area, or a business entrance area, then give ’em what they want. Classical portraits with a little side-lighting for contouring and warm smiles is the recipe for the day. That’s not wrong, it’s what the client wants, and at the end of the day the client is paying for the photos.
Secondly, being aware that traditional portraits like those outlined above are only only one form of portraiture is an important piece of knowledge. Getting out with the kids in the park and shooting when they are on the swings, sliding down slippery dips, running around or inspecting a twig are wonderful and important portraits. Photographing your parents doing what they love- knitting, cooking, working in the garden or in their much loved shed are all priceless. On professional shoots, taking photos ‘between’ the official photos can often get you the best results. Above all, always be prepared to be surprised and be quick to take advantage of new possibilities. Photography is a creative art form- remember to always strive to keep it that way.