Category Archives: 2 – Thinking About Location

Thinking about locations

I have taken the pictures below over the time I have been registered for this module when I have come across locations that I thought would provide a good portrait location. I have tried to pick a collection of different types of location and for each location I discuss the type of portrait that I think it would suit and suggest the type of shot I would tak.

Stairs always provide interesting backdrops for portraits; a person sitting on the stairs, perhaps hanging over the banisters or even an action portrait as the subject jogs up or down the stairs. On an overcast day like the one when I took this shot I would probably use natural light and a largish aperture to soften the strong geometric shapes of the stairs and banister.


Graffiti can provide an interesting backdrop for the right subject; I could see a teenager in casual cloths, an artist or perhaps a rock band photographed here. With the right lighting this could produce a quite moody or threatening effect. I would probably use fill lighting to make the subject standout while keeping the background darker that in this shot. I could see either a full length or torso portrait against this background. Although with a torso shot the subject would have to be placed carefully so that the graffiti visible in the background was more than just a solid block of colour.


Framing the subject if a door way is perhaps a rather clichéd style for a portrait but I thought this dark archway in Corpus Christi college in Cambridge would be good for a full length portrait. This shot was taken in the early afternoon and at this time of day the subject could stand in the sun light and in front of the dark passage some fill flash would be necessary to soften the hard shadows that would result. On a more over cast day is would probably be possible to take the shot in natural light. This would not be a an ideal location at the time of day when there was a shadow more across the archway


I really like this field that had a wide boarder of daisies and other wild flowers and I could see this being a backdrop for a romantic soft focus portrait. The subject could stand in front of or even in the flowers for a full length shot again fill flash or more sophisticated lighting to ensure the shot was taken at an angle to get the background filled with the flowers. A torso or perhaps headshot could be taken with the subject sitting just in front of the flowers. The subject could also sit amongst the flowers which I think would give the best effect if it could be achieved with causing too much damage.


Picturing people in their environment can add interest to a portrait eitherby capturing pride of possession or as the background to an activity. I can image that the colourful background of the Aga and tiles in this picture would provide a good background for someone cooking, perhaps in chef’s white.  Although such a picture may end up looking too contrived, I would also have to remember to remove the dirty tea towel from the rail of the Aga.


A plain white wall, I always remember the quote by David Bailey “I try to simplify things by just having a white background. I don’t care about ‘composition’ or anything like that. I just want the emotion of the person in the picture to come acrosss…”. I wouldn’t expect to be able to match Bailey’s skill but there is something attractive about the idea of a plain background that doesn’t in any way detract from the subject. The actual wall I choose was white with wood chip wall paer so there is a little texture. It was also lite by a combination of natural light from a window and a tungston bulb so it actually has a slight colour gradient


I took a self portrait using available light with a hat that has been lying around the house without being worn for many years as a prop. To me this is an ok portrait taken in rather boring lighting, it could certainly have been a lot better with more effort on the lighting.


I feel that portraits taken against a white background often look better in black and white so I made a soft fairly low contrast black and white version of this portrait which I really prefer to the colour image above. I choose this style for the portrait because I felt that the rather uniform lighting of the portrait did not lend to itself to a high contrast approach to post processing.