Week 1 Reflection

My practice would be categorised as landscape, street and travel photography. It is about found scenes and images framed in the world around me.

My first shoot this week was based around the West Pier in Brighton. I was revisiting it as part of the Place in Time task. I’m based in Sussex and for the task, I wanted to explore the pier as a local icon. My previous photographs of the pier have been of the structure in its marine setting. This is consistent with my habitual landscape practice. But I have been challenged to extend my practice by the realisation that it is quite limited and that I make very little attempt to portray people, except as elements of landscape pictures.

Whilst some photographers pursue very successful landscape practices, I find myself engaged by portraits and have developed a desire to include more portraiture in my work. So, on this occasion, I took my youngest daughter with me to act as a subject.

During the shoot, I wanted to revisit the pier as a landscape subject, use the pier as a background to a mock fashion shoot and take some portraits.

The landscape pictures of the pier were successful and I found some interesting new compositions.

The “fashion shoot” was fun. We tried some different poses and approaches. I felt like I had challenged myself and could build up from this basis. However, I am mindful that the model is my daughter and we have a long-established relationship. Working with another subject would be a different experience.

West Pier, Brighton. Clothes, model’s own.

The shoot took place in the evening and the setting sun bathed the area in warm, golden light. I used this for the next picture.

I felt this was the most successful portrait from those taken on the beach. I posted this on social media and I received some very positive feedback, some of which was from fellow students.

I have liked the work of Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn ever since he created the cover for the U2 album, The Joshua Tree. Recently I read an interview with him in which he explained his portraiture technique. He uses a relatively slow shutter speed, 1/60 or even 1/30 and a standard lens. His early work was on fast 35mm film, so grain and high contrast are apparent. This defies conventional portrait technique and creates such unconventional portraits.

I used Corbijn’s technique and then used Lightroom to emulate the fast film look by adding grain and adjusting contrast.

I’m pleased with the result. One of the things I have learned during the studies is that it is perfectly acceptable to learn from the masters and to build upon their knowledge.

So the evening on Brighton beach was valuable. I worked in my established style to build upon my collection of pictures of the West Pier. I tried working with a model to create a fashion picture which I would not normally do. I also ventured into new territory by exploring the techniques of a photographer who I admire.

The portraiture has certainly improved my confidence in this field and I feel encouraged to tackle more.