For my final project, I’ve been looking into conceptual portraiture as it is the direction I’m intending on moving towards and as it is the type of photography which interests me the most. Creating a powerful concept that viewers can relate to through portraits of others and possibly additional elements interacting with the subjects to support the concept is my main goal. To me, photographs with subjects that convey a strong message are the most powerful photographs. Therefore, I’ve been researching different technical ways of shooting portraits including natural settings as well as constructed sets with studio lighting, while also being inspired by all the various concepts that have been experimented with and exhibited and by all the stories that are told through conceptual portraits.
Through looking for inspiration, I have come across a couple links that inspired my final idea. The links explore photographers who used various subjects to create a series of portraits that gave off a particular conceptual message to their audience.
Phillip Toledano’s Hope & Fear was one of the projects that was most inspiring to me as he used Surrealism to create highly unusual and interesting photographs which expressed his message loudly and clearly. The way Toledano expressed the meaning of his project was by stating that the project was a “is the external manifestation of internal desires and paranoia that are adrift in contemporary American society. What are we afraid of? What do we love? How does our society function, and what does it worship?”
Further explanation of Toledano’s conceptual, technical and formal methodologies including an interview with Toledano himself.
Another inspiring project by Phillip Toledano.
An online book that I thought was an interesting read involving all things portraiture: Portraiture by Shearer West. (Might require UoGuelph library log-in)
More conceptual portraits:
‘Humanae’ Portraits Match People of Different Ethnicities With Their Pantone Color
Besides conceptual factors, Chris Levine’s use of light and colour in his photographs as well as in his exhibition were technical factors that were equally as inspiring to me.
If you are interested in portraiture as well and have access to the University of Guelph Library there are also several compelling photography books that I have found to really inspire my thought process. These include “Face: The New Photographic Portrait” by William A. Weing, “At Work” by Anne Leibovitz, “Close Up” by Katharina Sieverding, “Portaits in Series” by Kerber, “Contemporaries: A Photographic Series” by Judith Joy Ross and “Studio Photography: Essential Skills” by John Child for technical matters – all of which could be found in the TR section on the 5th floor of the library.