Comparing potraits – Stefan Ruiz, Rineke Dijkstra and a bit of Spencer Murphy

I got recommended by a friend to look at Stefan Ruiz portraits. I’ve only ever looked into his Cholombiano street culture series and didn’t realise he had done many other portraits of people. After looking on his website i already see that there are tons of ideas of body posture and facial expressions that i could take forward in my project. When looking on his website one of his portraits really struck me (below). I like how Stefan chose to present these 2 images as a pair, it gave me an idea to have 2 photographs of the same person but one having them in their uniform with aesthetics of power and confidence and the other in their normal clothes looking more on to the mental state rather then physical. This way the viewers are able to compare the 2 sides of one person and not just assume soldiers are exactly how they are stereotypically represented.

Compared with Spencer Murphys portraits these photographs have much more colour, to me i feel having a hint of high contrast boosts up the representation. The tone of these portraits creates quite an intimidating photograph, it looks as if these people tend to cause trouble and represent the stereotypical ‘youth’ whereas if the tone was similar to Murphys portraits viewers may interpret the subjects in a completely different way, it would create a much more quieter image. I think Stefan Ruiz wanted to focus this image on youth and allow the viewer to connect with the subjects. Again, eye contact with the lens makes me look into their eyes which makes me feel as if they need me to understand them, to look into their lives. Eye contact is such a strong part when it comes to photography

          

As you can see above in these 2 photographs the subjects are in a similar position but the use of colour compeltely changes the representation. For my test shoot i want to play with this idea of colour to create an image exactly how i would like it to be read. I do agree that you’re position is never neutral but the use of tone does ease the viewer to look at the photograph in a certain way. I would also like to play around with body posture. Another difference i’ve slowly began to realise in these photographs is that the subject in Ruizs image is sat down, you can tell by the way her shoulders are relaxed and facing inwards. This gives the images a much less constructive feel, viewers are able to read connotations from the body language much more than if the person was to stand up. As i haven’t worked with people before i feel having the subject sat on a chair would relax them and also me, i would give vague directions to the model but the use of a chair would lead them to sit in a position they are comfortable with which means the photograph will be a true representation to how they feel that moment.

Stefans subjects along with Spencer Murphys are never placed completely in the middle of the shot and are not facing straight on to the camera. I always thought before that a straight deadpan portrait would be the best way to show these people but looking at Rineke Dijkstras portraits my thoughts have completely changed!

This image is one of Dijkstras portraits. The way the subject is placed is how i was thinking on having  my subjects but looking at this image it’s not giving out the connotations i would expect. It looks very much like an identity photography, hair away from eyes, eye contact, limited facial expressions and a body which doesn’t look relaxed. It almost looks as if you’re not getting anything from this photograph, yes there is eye contact so the viewer has a chance to link with the subject but the subject isn’t giving much away for the viewer to understand, personally i prefer portraits that have a sense of life, a meaning which you are able to read from the subjects faces.

Comparing portraits from different photographers have given me a clear idea on how the smallest part of an images can change how people choose to represent the subject. In my test shoot i would like to try out all of these things i’ve learnt then compare my photographs to each other see which position of the model links better to how i want them to be represented.

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