Almost Weekly Photo

Storytelling In Portraiture

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Kashan Bazaar, Iran
Fujifilm X-H1 with 56mm f1.2 Fujinon lens, f1.4 @ 1/250, ISO 250

I may have published a photo of this gentleman before. He has wonderful features - a face that stands out in a crowd. Why? Is it because he has interesting facial characteristics or do we overlay what we imagine his life might have been like, or what his personality is like? And yet, despite all these ideas, I know absolutely nothing about him.

What I do like is the shallow depth-of-field, the hint of the vast indoors of the bazaar in the blurred background and the steely gaze on whatever has caught his attention. Or perhaps he's not looking at anything in particular, but rather lost in his thoughts, looking inwards.

In terms of tips and suggestions, this is one of 20 photographs I took. I tried different angles and waited for different expressions. I repeat this fact often - shooting lots - because I see many photographers just shooting one or two frames when they find a good subject. There is also a degree of post-production in the image that enhances the subject, using soft-brush mask over the face to lighten up the subject in comparison to the quieter background. As always, the finished image is a combination of capture and post-production, even though the amount of post-production on this occasion was quite minor.

While I'm known for landscape photography, one of my private loves is portraiture and currently I'm working through the photo tour to Iran images I took with Nuran Zorlu the year before last. I like some of the portraits I create, although a few of my portrait friends take great delight in pointing out some of my many misgivings! And so it's probably a good idea that I'm not personally a judge in the new International Portrait Photographer of the Year awards that we've just announced.

Following on the success of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year award, the Portrait equivalent seems to be a logical extension. It will follow a similar approach, rewarding not only a small number of top prize winners (there is US$10,000 in cash prizes), but a collection of the best 101 portrait photographs. The winning images will all be designed into a beautiful photo book that can be downloaded or purchased in print, just like we already do for the landscape awards.

To help with the competition, we have four categories for different approaches to portraiture, and six experienced professional photographers to judge. If you're interested in knowing more or entering (entries close 30 April), please visit www.internationalportraitphotographer.com 

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