Portfolio Production: Part Three


After the first two posts on Street and Lightpainting Photography here is the third part, it’s about the Portrait section that I think I needed to include in the portfolio submision to prove to myself that I can take an ok portrait shot, in it are a couple of nice photos and a couple that I’m reasonably happy with. Well, you’ll see in a moment…


First up is my favourite portrait from recent times, it’s a photo of my daughter wearing a US flag themed jacket stood against a graffitied wall in the city of Leeds. On her last day in her shared house I drove up to meet her, pack the car and then bring her back to Shrewsbury. Whilst there we went for an amble around the campus of the University Of Leeds to take a last look at the marvellous buildings that make up the huge area. On the way into the university campus we passed this wall and I asked her to pose against the wall for me, she’s not a natural model or poser so this was as strange for her as it was for me, I too aren’t used to taking portraits of people like this.

GRAFFITI GIRL, Leeds June 2021

We were having a laugh and messing around for a short while which produced a few images that didn’t feel quite right, mainly as there was a smile to the camera or an unnatural look, as well as the gonky faces she was pulling on purpose. Towards the end of the very short session she relaxed and adjusted her jacket whilst looking off at some other students wandering past, this is the look I captured in this image and I’m very proud of it. It’s not perfect and I know that the brickwork shows up the angle that I took the photo at but this is the way I saw it in the viewfinder , if I straightened it, it really reduced the impact of the gaze.

In this campus tour I took another photo that I was pleased with but it diodn’t fit the portrait category, I didn’t think. Here is my daughter, agan, jumping from a few steps up in an underpass in the university campus. It’s very natural and a good likeness of her as well as being a happy memory for us both getting her to jump off these steps a number of times.

STEP JUMPER, Leeds June 2021


The second portrait in this section of my submission to Wolverhampton University School Of Art was actually two. Both portraits of Dom, someone I work with who needed some portraits and photos with his guitars for his gig posters. He worked with us in the Caterpillar Photographic Society and we got experience of using him as a model/subject and he had some great portraits from the members of the club. It was tricky telling him what we wanted him to do, at first, and then it became a little easier as he lost his nervousness almost as much as we did.

DOM I, Shrewsbury September 2018

This first portrait shows him with his pony tail tied back and a great big, Brian Blessed style beard. I chose to backlight him for both of these images as well as a softbox in front of him on this one. The backlit region of his neck shows off his hair and beard outline that may not have been seen that readily, but didn’t leave him with a lot of light popping out. The front light helped illuminate his face and bring out the detail.

DOM II, Shrewsbury September 2018

The second shot was a hair down photo and at a time when I was just playing with ideas to get him something different to the usual style portraits. I had the strobe behind him and a colleague with a reflector to the right side bouncing back a little light for some detail on his front. I liked this image, but not as much as the first, as it made him look like he was on stage with the spotlight over his shoulder and a bit of lens flare on the other side of him.

It was a very tricky session trying to manage Dom and the other club members to make sure we weren’t all stepping on each others toes and changing stuff midway through someone else’s’ setup. We got there in the end and we all learned many valuable lessons.


The next portrait is possibly my favourite ever photo of my dad, also named Bob. He’s still with us today but a few years ago he suffered a couple of nasty strokes, brought about by old age and an excess of drinking and smoking over his life. From the 1970s onwards Dad had been the main bar steward at the English XX (Twenty) Rifle Club Clubhouse at the National Rifle Association’s Bisley Camp. He used to spend a fortnight every year during the Imperial Meeting at the clubhouse running it and ensuring all of the England National Rifle Team were kept hydrated and fed. My brothers and I also used to go for the two weeks and do the paid job of Butt Marking (marking targets at the other end of the range.)

ENGLISH XX FATHER, Surrey July 2017.

Dad thought it might be his last chance to get to Bisley Camp so in 2017 my brother and I took him there for the weekend and he was sat in the clubhouse on this particular occasion with his customary pint of cider whilst other people looked after him. Feeling the cold most of the time he was sat in front of an open fire in his big coat and he gave me this great smile. Whilst its not immediately obvious that he’s smiling this picture captures his eyes at their most mischievous and the mouth grimace that looks like has zero teeth in there. The building he was in was a challenge also as the lighting was difficult and there were a few small windows but I had to up my ISO to really get the image as it looked to my eyes. I went with a mono post processing too as the orange liner in his coat was very distracting and this firmly placed the emphasis on his happy face.


The fourth slide in the portrait section of my submitted portfolio is “The Dog Father”, a photo of my father-in-law with his working gundogs in a field on a training session. His passions are shooting, farming, his dogs and fishing and this image of him with his dogs perfectly captures him in his element with his focus on the animals and their focus on him.

THE DOG FATHER, Walford November 2016

I’ve tried taking pictures of him and his dogs before but without success usually. The dogs are constantly moving and jumping up and down whilst my father-n-law is usually self conscious about being the subject of a photo. He commonly gives me a smile that looks like a forced expression that doesn’t make for a pleasing image. I find this image pleasing to the eye as the dogs eyes are all looking at the same single focal point, their master’s face and waiting for his next command.


As i’ve previously stated, portraits are not a strong point of mine, in particular, so the last image in this section is a portrait of some cosplayers at a Comicon in Birmingham. Named “Judged”, the photo shows a group of Judge Dredd / 2000AD Comic Book Fans dressed as Judges from the fictional stories. The image of these five costumed people was boring when they were all stood side by side, even when they had my son on his knees with their Lawgivers (Guns) pointed at him it was still a very cliched and “done” shot. For this reason I lay flat on the floor and asked them to stand over my camera as though I was a “perp” they were dolling justice out to.

JUDGED, Birmingham November 2017

The lack of natural light and overly dark conditions lent itself well to looking like a panel from a comic book page about a post apocalyptic world. I got this idea owing to the fact that I am a fan of Batman comics and images in the panels in the books I have read often give rise to some interesting angles, poses and ideas.


The end of my portrait section of the portfolio has arrived and with it my weakest section, I think. The photo of my daughter with the graffiti and the image of my Dad in an armchair are the strongest photos in this section but with a lack of serious portraits to pick from it was always going to prove to be a challenge.

Feel free to leave a comment in the section below to let me know what you might do to improve the shots I included or whether there’s anything you liked.

The next section will be the Abstract Architecture section, as I love taking images of buildings that often include strange angles and geometry. That will be the end of the portfolio explanation and include a link to the portfolio on a youtube video that I used as an alternative method to submit my images as well as PDF and PPT.

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