10 May 2013

Photo Tip No 7 - Look for Expression

Sometimes the opportunity arises to capture a candid portrait of someone. Most often the result will be somewhat contemplative but, hopefully, the image will reveal some inner aspect of the person that might otherwise not be seen if he/she was aware they were being photographed.

This image was captured in the millisecond that hired workers attempted to break a union picket line outside an iron ore mine in Newman in Western Australia, The expression on the man's face just seemed to sum up the full hatred these men and women felt for their non-union opponents. Titled 'Yours For the Rent', this image won Second Prize in the 1989 Australian Rothmans Press Photography Award (in the Spot News category though it could equally have placed in the Portrait section).

Technically this was before digital photography existed and, from memory, the details were something like an 80-200mm zoom lens on a Nikon FM2 (Ilford XP400 film, hand developed and printed in the bathroom of the local motel using a portable darkroom - which was really just a wooden box with trays, paper, chemicals and an enlarger wedged into it).

Anyway, the lesson is that portraits do not have to be pretty. They don't have to be positive either. To most of us the darker side of life can be as fascinating as the lighter side. Any human emotion lends itself to portraiture, and real emotion will trump a studio pose in most cases. So keep your eyes peeled next time you are caught up in a protest rally (or even on the sidelines of the kids' footy game!).

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