In this exercise I used location as a way reflecting character. My subject enjoys learning the ancient world and is obsessed with books, and enjoys the outdoors.
Her dream is to gain a PhD and teach, she going to Royal Holloway to study for her masters.
I decided that we would visit a number of places that reflect each of her passions. We chose a library a church a park a university and a ruin.
I am happy that I achieved what I wanted to but they are not the beautiful portraits I would like to have made. Given more time and the ability to choose the moment in the day and the lighting, I think the result could have been better, however I do tend to wish I had studio like control when out and about and I tend not to have the resources that would be required to achieve this. It is an exercise and not an assignment and to that end it taught me what I needed to know, further proving that the portrait is what the photographer makes it rather than some inner window on the sitter.
As a series of images, for me they do reflect the unique parts of Claire’s character, they do describe her, but this was obviously drawn from a set of shared experiences I have with her, a group semiosphere we share. There are undoubtedly others who share that experience bubble like my wife, and my mother while she was alive. These images would speak to anyone who knows Claire well but would probably be confusing to anyone who does no know her.
I subtitled them without thinking about why I was doing that, and only now as I reflect do I realise it is a vain attempt to include the casual viewer into our shared semiosphere.
If I look at the individual images, some work better than others. The library is a rather obvious location that is associated with books. The church is less obvious It would probably work better inside with a more contemplative portrait. Outdoors was a little obscure it is a site where we spent family days out with the children. Her real passion is horses but due to a lack of time and a suitable location we could not reflect this and the park was a second best alternative.
The last two work really well for me they reflect her biggest passions, the Royal Holloway has been a dream for Claire for a long time and soon she will fulfil that dream as she studies for her masters there, this image was the perfect setting for showing Claire the student.
The ruins are a Victorian folly built to look like a roman ruin in the grounds of Virginia Water, Claire is obsessed with the ancient world and loves archaeological digs although this is a little like a Hollywood wild west town in its fakery the image looks sincere enough and as an impromptu location it hit the spot.
It is also worth noting that she is not smiling much in the pictures she is suffering with Trigeminal Neuralgia and is in constant agony however in the University image there is a small smile and in the ruins there is a big smile which just proves that our biggest passions can overcome the worst pain.