February 19, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge- Black Plus White Equals Gray

I think it is important to take risks artistically; what I mean is that sometimes when a style becomes comfortable, it may behoove the artist to try something new for the sake of diversity. I love black and white photography. I love the textures created in the breakdown of lights and shadows into blacks, whites, and grays. And when it comes to black and white, I love my images high in contrast. I normally don’t mess with gray. I like my lights to be white, and my shadows to be black. I may tolerate a few dark grays here and there, but only to add a bit of depth to an otherwise stark, stencil like image. I find the stark outlines undemanding. It is amazing, especially in portrait work, how little composition you need to create an image. A field of white with a few dark lines is all it takes to create a face. Photography is nothing more than capturing light and shadows, so in theory what more should you need than a field of light brushed with shadows? Or an abyss of darkness, sprinkled with light?

However, since many SPCers have been saying that life is more than just these two polar opposite, and many have commented that their lives are filled with gray ambiguity, I decided to try the opposite of what I usually do with my B&W images. I wanted to craft a picture with very low-contrast, bathed in gray. I was in luck, because I woke to a very gray and cloudy day. My wife was out with our daughter and I was alone in the a room that begged for a dim, murky shot.

Also, because I am normally trying to drive a narrative with each portrait, this week, I wanted to capture a very mundane and daily task. I wanted the subject to be devoid of any hidden meaning. I suppose if one looked closely, one could say that the subject of the photo is very cut and dry (very black and white) so I decided to immerse it in ambiguity in a field of gray.

Maybe I am just trying to give this shot more meaning than it deserves. Here is a self-portrait of me shaving on a dark and cloudy day. I played with it for hours, and although I had some awesome high-contrast, grainy shots, I chose to go with this one for all the reasons stated above. What do you think?

10 comments:

  1. i like it! i like the ordinary, every day-ness of it. i like that it captures one of those moments in life that is so...so, ordinary...

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  3. There is something very film noir about this shot. The grainy realism really works for the everyday-ness of the subject. It suits you.

    :)

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  4. I think it looks really amazing, quite beautiful. I don't think there is anything ordinary about it, though ... I agree with Blondie, there is a film noir vibe about it.

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  5. I like the idea of breaking the mold -- doing the opposite of what you would normally do. I wonder, though, if a different shot might have received the low-contrast treatment with better results. I do like the ordinary-ness of the moment, regardless.

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  6. My favortie detail is the motion blur of your hand. Very nice angles as well.

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  7. Hi! thanks for stopping by. My template is from Final Sense. Just do a search for the. There are quite a few to choose from. Your portraits are amazing. i especially like the one 2 weeks ago (the closeup facial shot) .

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  8. You could create an entire story about the man in this photo. That's what I love about black and white is that there is a lot left to the imagination.

    Is a lot of life gray ambiguity? I'm not sure.

    LC

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  9. I think you succeeded!
    Nice work.

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  10. I love the composition with you in between the darkness and light. And it's interesting sometimes to consciously do the opposite of what our natural tendencies are.

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