Black & White Portrait Photography

Lighting & Tone

Cecil Beaton

I have chosen these photographs by Cecil Beaton as an example of lighting and tone in photography. As you can see both images are taken in a studio with studio lights being set up in just one part in room so it creates shadows, darker and lighter tones.

The first image is a portrait of Ann Margret, who is a well known singer and actress back in the 1960s. The second image shown at the bottom is a portrait of Julie Andrews, who is known as an actress, singer, author and dancer.

In the first image of Ann the light is coming from the right side of the image creating a shadow on the left because there isn’t light on that side, this is known as ‘split lighting’. The second image is a portrait of Julie Andrews and is also the same style lighting of the first picture except both of the models are standing in different positions, such as Ann’s body is facing the opposite way to the light with her face and eyes are looking directly to the camera, and Julie’s body is facing the camera while her face is turned slightly towards the light.

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Philippe Halsman

I have chosen these two photographs by Philippe Halsman to represent light and tones because of the different background tones. Both images are also the same in some way as they are both close ups of the face.

The first picture is an image of Albert Einstein where he is facing and looking towards the camera. His face doesn’t really show an emotion however you can probably guess what his feeling by the look in his eyes. The image also contains split lighting with the light coming from the left side of the image with a shadow then on the other side. The dark background also creates a contrast the lighter tones from his face and hair.

The second image is a portrait of Marlon Brando, an American actor. This image is also a split lighting shot with the light coming from the left side of the image, making a shadow on the right side of his face. His body is also facing the camera with his head slightly looking to the side. The background in this image is also a white background which creates a contrast against his dark hair and also the stripes on his clothes.

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Composition & Framing

Glenn Busch

I have chosen to look at Glenn’s work because the composition in his photographs are standard. The people in his photographs mainly stand in the centre of the image and look straight into the camera, which is what most be do when someone takes a picture of them. You also notice that every person in each of his photographs have a different story and you notice this by the clothes they wear and the background in the shot.

The first image is a picture of a man holding a paint can and a paint brush, this clothes also have paint all over them, we can see this because the paint is a different tone of colour to the clothes that his wearing. We can see that his an old man painting his fence, but the real thing viewers notice when looking at portraits is the emotion on there faces, as we can see this mans face looks almost clueless and lost with the way he looks into the camera.

The second image is also a man standing between two fences, we can also see that Glenn has purposely taken the image in-between the fences so that the mans jumper doesn’t blend into the fence as it’s the same tone of colour.

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Alfred Eisenstaedt

I have chosen to look at these photographs taken by Alfred is because each of his photographs have a different composition about them.

The first image is a women sitting in a crowd of empty seats with her positioned in the centre of the image from where Alfred has angled the camera to make this shot. The empty seats around her also frame the women and straight away we would notice her, the seats also make the viewers seem that the woman is lonely and abandoned.

The second image is a photograph of a couple kissing in the of the streets on a homecoming. The couple are also positioned in the centre of the image so that we can see the people surrounding them and smiling and the buildings in the background. The clothes also contrast with each other with the woman wearing pale colours and the man wearing more darker colours and this shows more with the image being black and white.

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 Angle of Shots & Vantage Point

Duane Michaels

I had chosen to look at this photographers picture because they are weird when you first look at them because of the angle they are taken and the pattern that it creates. Most of Duanes photographs involve mirror and symmetry.

The first image is a picture of a woman looking in a mirror creating her face to be distorted in the mirror with the way she is positioning it and also the position of the camera.

The second image is a picture of a man standing between mirrors to create a symmetrical effect running through the picture creating the viewers eye to go diagonal across the picture, from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. He is also wearing dark clothes which create contrast between his face and the background.

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Alexander Rodchenko

I have picked to look at this photographer especially because he seems to take portraits at different vantage points such as, taking an image from above the subject and taking a picture below the subject.

The first picture is an image of a women which was taken at a high shot where the camera is above her. The women in the image is also looking up at the camera, her body also creates a line leading from her head to toe.

The second image is a picture of a young girl where the camera was positioned quite low, except she isn’t looking down at the camera and is looking straight ahead. The top she is also wearing is a pale colour which blends in with the background so that the viewers are more concentrated on her face and her emotions.

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 Subject Matter & Use of Props

Annie Leibovitz

I have chosen to look at this photographer because he shows how props can be affected in a black and white portrait photograph, in many photos which have props in can say a lot about the persons personality in the photograph.

The first photograph is a landscape shot of a person holding a guitar whilst standing in the countryside, this must mean that she’s a country woman. In the image we can see that the woman’s body stands out the most in the image as the background is quite dark and dull.

The second image is a woman cleaning windows , her body has also turned her back on the photograph suggesting that other people don’t take notice of her because she’s a cleaner and treated as a slave for round the house. The picture also has a great view of a city outside, this shows the viewers that she feels trapped behind glass and is poor and unfortunate to go out into the open world.

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Herman Leonard

I picked to study this photographer because he mainly shows different props but props which relate to music. His pictures are mainly in black and white to show a tonal effect in his portraits.

The first image is a portrait of a man holding a trumpet in front of his face so his not seen, this represents that the boy may be shy and doesn’t want his talent to play a trumpet to be noticed. The dark background also makes the man stand out more because of his skin colour and him wearing a white t-shirt.

The second picture is also similar to the first one as the man isn’t looking into the camera as his playing the trumpet. He is also wearing a black suit against a dark background causing his white shirt and the trumpet to stand out the most.

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Background & Depth of Field

Bruce Davidson

I have chosen to look at this photographer because his photographs show interesting kind of backgrounds.

The first image is a picture of a young boy pushing his toys in a pram with a house on left side of the image behind the wall, there is also a factory in the distance down the lane, the lines on the road also lead towards the background making an interest of what’s shown in the background of the image. The boy in the image also looks lost and emotionless whilst looking at the camera suggesting he comes from an poor family.

The second image is a picture of a man in the middle of a city surrounded by buildings. The man is also positioned more to the left side of the image, which shows more of the background of the streets. His dark clothing almost makes him blend into the background , like he doesn’t want him to be seen.

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Dorothea Lange

I picked to look at this photographer because he uses a big background in the distance of portraits to make the picture more interesting.

The first image is of a woman in a middle of a field where t looks abandoned and empty in the distance. She is also positioned in centre of the photograph showing that she the only interesting person in the picture.

The second image is also very similar to the top picture because it also has an empty background as well. From what the boy is wearing we can see his a farmer or something similar. He is also positioned in the centre too but he is leaning on a stick creating an angle or a triangle shape to add interest to the image.

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