Unit 26 Project Evaluation

This brief has been short, and I wish I could’ve had more time on it. I enjoyed the project and what I gained from it. The specialist studio brief gave us more scope with what we wanted to photograph in the studio. I immediately decided on portraiture for this brief; I wanted to create a series of portraits based on people I could get into the studio to photograph. I was able to shoot five different sitters and I printed four final images.

I learned a lot about portraiture while compiling visual research. I have learnt there are many different types of portraiture. From the traditional classic portrait to fashion-based portraits, there are different classifications for different types of portraits. I also found inspiration from many different Portrait Photographers. Each have their own distinct style and sometimes have photographed historical figures or produced portraits that have changed the way we look at portraiture. From my research I have found out about Edward Steichen, who has a very humanistic approach to his portraits, while still trying to photograph the subject in a beautiful light. This contrasts with Martin Schoeller, who photographs all his subjects in the same way no matter who they are.

I looked at different studio photographers; Martin Schoeller, Richard Avedon and Greg Gorman. Each of these photographers has their own style and way of working, from the up-close-and-personal portraits of Martin Schoeller to the cleverly “punned” Absolut adverts from Steve Bronstein. Richard Avedon helped “America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century” – (The New York Times). Greg Gorman is another iconic American portrait photographer who continues to use black and white.

Health and Safety within the studio is very important for you as the photographer and when shooting a model. The electrical equipment that is used within the studio can have a high voltage and could give a serious electrical injury to someone if they are not careful. So not matter what kind of photographer you are, if you have a studio you should work under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989). A photographer who makes sure to comply and work with these regulations will ensure a safe working environment, but this environment needs to be maintained and all employees and non-employees (this could be models or overseers) should be provided with an explanation of all health and safety policies at the work place. Clear signage should be provided for all equipment in case an emergency should arise.

When researching about model communication and photographic copyright, I learned that it is very important to keep a record of all communications with model and client. This is important as a lawsuit might pop-up, and the question of ownership of the images might be questioned. It is also important to ensure that models shot by any photographer should ask the model to sign a model release form.

When working in the studio putting all of the health and safety aspects in to play can be overwhelming, but it is important that you enforce them into your practice. When shooting my two different models, I had to make sure that when they were navigating the studio after the studio flash had been in their eyes, they were in no immediate danger. I also had to ensure that all the cables were out of the way and weren’t likely to cause someone to trip. When putting up the studio equipment I had to take as it takes time for the equipment to cool down and, if you are not careful, it can cause burns, if you don’t leave sufficient time for them to cool down.

This studio brief consisted of five different studio shoots for the different sitters I photographed. I used a variety of studio lighting attachments from small to large soft-boxes, beauty dishes and a honeycomb attachment. I shot with my Sony Alpha A7 with a Canon mount adapter and an 85mm Prime lens. I shot at 1/160th and I used an aperture of f/5.6 to f/9.0 and my ISO sensitivity was 200 for all of the shoots. I then also made sure to shoot in RAW or RAW and JPEG. I shot slightly faster because my camera is smaller and the lenses are designed for bigger cameras making the camera un-balanced and more prone to minor camera shake.

All of these shoots gave me a few satisfactory photos to submit. It also taught me that as a portrait photographer sometimes some shoots will go better than others. You as the photographer need to work the subject to make every portrait interesting. If that means lighting them in a certain way then so be it. I enjoyed experimenting with the different lighting set-ups to capture different qualities of each subject, but this has also reinforced that there is still along way to go before I am confident with each shoot and find my own distinct style when shooting a portrait.

For all the shoots it was imperative that I got them to sign a model release form. It is very important when working professionally in photography to make sure a model has signed a model release form and that you both keep record of the form. As if there are any legal issues to arise in the future it must be documented and they’re proof that the model declared the rights of the images.

This brief has opened up new ideas and possibilities for future projects, whether they maybe personal or professional. But there are some important lessons to learn from this assignment. I need to concentrate on ensuring a consistent workflow to be able to produce good amount of work. All shoots a photographer undertakes require planning and research to make a shoot successful. They also need to think on their feet, consider every possibility and not limit themselves because they don’t have the right equipment, but to think outside the box. When shooting in the studio, you have to be willing to experiment in what you are shooting and how you should shoot it. When creating a digital workflow, ensure all components work to ensure that you have no trouble with editing images or importing them onto a computer.

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