Assignment 3: proposal

I haven’t quite finished the coursework on this section but am close enough to get down in writing my preparation so far for the assignment. I’ve swapped emails with my tutor and she’s given her positive feedback and advice on the idea, so I’m cracking on.

Brief (summary)

Produce a series of 12 portraits that give insight into the character and nature of four individual sitters chosen from a particular group. Choose an organisation or group that has a broad membership in terms of age and appearance.

Interview your four chosen subjects and make a written record of how they see themselves and how they feel about their involvement in the organisation or pastime.

As a photographer you may have your own ideas about how you would like to portray them. Make a written record of this and analyse the areas of commonality and difference between each subject’s view and your own.

Decide on some possible locations. These may be indoor or outdoor settings but photograph each sitter in one location only. The locations you choose and the composition of the images must reflect the group’s common interest in some way but also reflect the differences between each sitter within this overall area of interest. You may work in colour or black and white.

Offer each sitter/client a choice from your three best images of them. You should end up with 12 images, three of each sitter.

Statement (work in progress)

Newbridge Park is a outdoor activity facility redeveloped from former quarry and disused woodland in Pickering, North Yorkshire. In 2011 the land was taken over by a group of local volunteers and funds were raised to create first of all a mountain bike jump circuit, followed by a full cross-country cycle loop and a picnic area. Footpath improvements and woodland management including new tree planting also form part of the ongoing initiative, which seeks to give both local residents and tourists an outdoor activity experience easily accessible from the town centre.

The Newbridge Park committee is a set of 10 volunteers (including me) with a variety of skills and specialisms who work tirelessly – and mostly thanklessly – to both keep the site open and making incremental improvements when funds allow.

My intention for this project is to create portraits of four of the committee members, on site up in the woods themselves. I intend to adopt three different styles of portraiture and present the results back to the subjects as per the brief. The types of portrait planned are:

  1. Half-body, fairly traditional, with defocused background
  2. Full-length, environmental portrait giving equal prominence to woodland setting, less formal pose / maybe more candid moments
  3. A pose that is specific to that individual’s particular area of interest (botanist / mountain biker / fundraiser / lobbyist etc)

Preparation to date

  • I had the idea some weeks ago and approached the committee members for approval
  • I’ve taken some test shots with a couple of subjects (that I’m not happy with and will reshoot! I will incorporate these into a later prep post and explain why they are not being used)
  • I’ve subsequently done further location scouting up in the woods and identified better spots for each type of shot as described above
  • I have shortlisted four of the volunteers and identified their particular ‘angle’ with regards to the project (and tried to ensure a broad mix as suggested in the brief):
    • Tim: 60s, retired doctor, active member of town political scene, original instigator that got the idea off the ground, remains involved in  figurehead/ambassador capacity
    • Mike: 40s, mountain bike fanatic and instructor, chairman of the committee and all-round driving force that keeps the whole thing going; no Mike, no Newbridge Park!
    • Rick: 40s, government botanist, responsible for the woodland management side of the park
    • Nicola: 20s, keen cyclist and also studying bookkeeping and so effectively our treasurer, responsible for the financial side of the operation
  • I’ve provisionally set shoot dates/times with three of the four subjects
  • I’ve been reviewing some really useful research recommendations on similar/related projects by other photographers from my tutor

Next steps

  • Interview each subject
  • Confirm final shoot dates/times
  • Come up with ideas on shot number 3 for each sitter – the one that’s specific to them (had some ideas already but need to refine and plan in more detail)
  • Write up research on similar projects as suggested by tutor
  • Shoot!

More to follow…

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