260mc: Photographing the Face: Long Portrait



This week we looked at Photographing the Face and more specifically, Moving Portraits or Cinemagraphs. I loved the idea of capturing the essence of someone in a single moment in time and being able to relive it over and over. Capturing someone as they are for one minute on one day, as they may never be again, as the world around us changes so rapidly.

I researched other moving portrait projects from some famous photographers/artists. I really loved Rob & Lauren’s idea of capturing a babies movement and expressions and it has inspired me to consider a similar project for the future capturing the first few minutes of a child’s life as soon as they are born, immortalised on film.

But my main inspiration was GAME FACE The Art of Photographing Game Players (2000-2013) http://www.gamescenes.org/gamephotography.html
Although stills instead of moving images, I felt this series of photos had a similar idea to what I hoped to convey. The capturing of being caught up in a moment, whether it be by video games or books or anything else someone has a great passion for.

My Moving/Long portrait is called Firing the Imagination and is meant to convey how books spark our imaginations and inspire us with new images and ideas. My daughter often likes to sit and read in front of the fire so I set her up with her favourite Harry Potter book and asked her to read for a while as I set up my equipment. I was hoping to convey a rich warm orange glow to the piece and hoped I could do this with the light from the fire alone. The first angle I arranged looked really nice but as soon as I took a few stills I realized that the fire was taking up too much of the shot and it was easy to be distracted by the flames and miss the book altogether as both the book and the subject were too much in shadow.


It was evident I needed to reposition and add in an extra light source to highlight the book. I moved closer to my subject cropping out a lot of the background. I then added a small led strip light on the floor under the book but the light was initially far too white really contrasting against the fires red and orange tones. So I used a red filter placed on top of a yellow filter over the led light. This looked far more natural but the image was still quite harsh. I removed the standard kit lens from my Sony A6000 and replaced it with a vintage Pentacon 50mm lens. This gave me a much softer and more pleasing image. I positioned myself so the flames of the fire were behind the book so you could image the flames were eminating from the pages of the open book as ideas jump from words into your mind as you read them. I opened the aperture up to f1.4 and focused on the corner of the book and the wisps of my daughter’s hair blowing in the breeze from the fire.

I’m really happy with how the final portrait looks but think if I was to reshoot the scene I would get my daughter to hold the book a little higher into the shot and maybe light her face from below a little more. Although I would need to be careful to avoid making the scene looked contrived. Allowing her to just sit and read as I did, with only very minimal outside lighting, helped to add to the film’s natural/looking in from the outside feel.

I would also have liked to be a little more experimental with this project. While researching Moving Portraits I came across the medium of Tallscreen: filming in a vertical/portrait view rather than the traditional horizontal landscape view we are all used to.



Obviously vertical shooting lends itself particularly well to photographing the face, hence why this shooting angle is referred to as portrait. But I was a bit nervous to try out this technique as I didn’t know enough about how to convert the footage once I had captured it. I have since discovered a helpful article/tutorial and think I could definitely give it a go. Using a different filming angle would have made my piece stand out more, would have strengthened the idea that it was a portrait and would have gained me new knowledge in editing in vertical.


Emerald Reels presents Reed O’Beirne (1995) Available at: http://www.emeraldreels.com/reed.htm (Accessed: 8 December 2016).

FEATURE: GAME FACE (2011) Available at: http://www.gamescenes.org/gamephotography.html (Accessed: 8 November 2016).

FRONT (2015) Available at: http://www.graemedunn.com (Accessed: 8 November 2016).

Lauren (2016) Cole // newborn moving portrait. Available at: https://vimeo.com/36252916 (Accessed: 8 December 2016).

Percy & Reed: Collection 2010 [Portrait Version] (2016) Available at: https://vimeo.com/groups/tallscreen/videos/15573765 (Accessed: 10 November 2016).

Sontag, S. (2001) On photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Vimeo (2016) || tallscreen. Available at: https://vimeo.com/groups/tallscreen/page:1/sort:date (Accessed: 8 November 2016).




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