Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265: Project


Project: Spontaneous Portraiture

Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Schedule


Goals & Concept

Impromptu and Spontaneous Portraiture involves distinctly different attitude, skills and pace from traditional studio portraits. You, the photographer, have far less control over subject, lighting and point of view. You have to work with the equipment — lenses and camera settings -- that you have on hand. You must make fast decisions about framing your image, timing your shot, and any last-second exposure adjustments.

Non-posed, candid portraits are a very different problem than posed, staged, carefully studio-lit portraits.

Your tasks is to capture the character of an event or a place. It might be a wedding reception, a party or an evening at coffee shop. Can the mood of actual, unposed people doing unrehearsed and undirected actions create evokative images? Frankly, yes. Images that capture an instant of authenticity are engaging — we like the sense of what actually is, in contrast to what has been posed and presented.


The Short Version

Shoot a thematically unified series of candid portraits (7+).

Post to G+ album: 016 Spontaneous Portrait.

Develop an expressive point of view through the series.

Develop a consistent and evokative graphic concept.

Lay out a composite image representing how you might present the entire series.


Expressive Theme: 

What might you be able to say through your images about the characters or subject?

Explore what you might want to say through your image.
Develop a concept statement about the message you'd like to convey.
Explore reasons for including the particular objects, settings or actions in your series of images.

What might you say about casual, unguarded moments? ...about how we are, in contrast to who we present ourselves as being? Casual images aim to de-mask people and capture their authentic character.



— Review the basic operations of a digital SLR.
— Have a memory card prepped.
— Reset defaults on any borrowed camera.
— Image Format: RAW

What shooting mode will you use?
If I am concerned with depth of field, I'll likely prefer Aperture Priority Mode.
If I want to produce motion blur, or be sure to avoid it, I may prefer Shutter Speed Priority Mode.
You could shoot this set on full auto (P) or manual (M).

You might turn on Auto-ISO Sensitivity.

Focussing: Auto or Manual?
If the images you concieve involve a very narrow DOF, you may want direct control over focus and so use Manual focus. You might also use the Focus Lock technique to tell the camera what forms to auto-focus on. This is easier if you're shooting hand-held rather than on tripod.
Camera Manual PDFs:          D7000 Manual — p. 97      |        D90 Manual — p. 57


Conceive and plan the shots you will take.

Shoot roughly 150+ images.
Candid images of people invariably involve a high failure rate. Composition, lighting and, especially, expressions tend to often be just a bit off. Shoot enough images that you will have a pool of images to pick from, in hopes of arriving at a set of strong, engaging images.  

Select 30 images that offer appealing and varied expressions.



— The general steps will likely be the same you've followed in other sets. The particulars will vary according to your concept for this series.

— Upload to Google+ into “016 Spontaneous Portrait” folder.  Drag those into your Art 265 circle.

— Describe the formal and thematic traits that unify this set of images.  
Describe the formal and thematic traits the offer variety within this set of images.
Write a (50-100 words) concept statement that describes the content that you are aiming to express about, or through your collection.

— Review and comment* on the photos uploaded by at least 7 other students before class.
* Provide relevant comments (25+ more words) discussing what you see in the photos presented — comment particularly on what impresses you or what catches your eye.  Comment on what you think might improve the power and clarity of the narrative of the presented photos.


By Tuesday, 8am

Shoot at least 150 images.
Select (at least) 30 of those for editing.
Select 7+ of those for G+ presentation as a theme-unified series.

Downsize images to 2Mpix JPGs before upload.

Post to G+ :
Project Photo Album: 016 Spontaneous Portrait (7+ image plus composite)

Write an artists statement for the final series.
— Discuss whatever theme or emphases you discovered. You might describe what you found as you surveyed your images in Bridge. What surprised you? How did your direction change as you went?

Write critical comments about the final series images:
— Discuss the strengths of the final images in relation to that theme.


Thursday, before Class

Crit your Peers:
Go to G+ and review what your classmates have uploaded.

For each classmate, go to their 016 Spontaneous Portrait album.

Add comments to at least one image, or to the series as a whole.
Discuss ways in which the series is formally unified — what traits tie the separate images together?
How compositionally successful are the images?
What is interesting about them?



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