Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Using Light to Create a Graphic Portrait

21Oct

Graphic Shapes and Interesting Light Work Together in this Portrait

I’m often drawn to images with a sense of mystery, pictures that might be of an everyday activity, but which portray the action in a way that makes us look at it anew

I love to create images with a sense of mystery and to do this then light and shadow often come into play, especially if you work in monochrome as I do.  Working with the light to emphasise different areas of the picture means that images can tell a story but can also suggest, can draw us in, can make us question and want to know more.  I find silhouettes are particularly good for this as they leave so much to our imagination, they are one of my favourite techniques to incorporate into my family photography.

It was a wet day for our recent photo shoot but I love a challenge and working with the situation meant that I took pictures would have been impossible on a bright sunny day, woodlands are fantastic in wet weather.

This picture was taken during a break in the weather in a small clearing in the woods.  We’d been avoiding clearings for most of the morning as no trees meant no tree cover and we didn’t’ want to get wet.  However, for a moment the rain eased and we were able to take some pictures before continuing our exploration and our adventure.

Because the light was coming in from above, and from a small area above too as the gap in the trees was small, it acted almost like a spotlight down on the boys below.  This meant that as Rohan looked up his face is brilliantly illuminated giving this fabulous modelling and drawing us into the image.  It’s as if the laughter is lighting him up as he plays with his older brother.

Nuwan, in contrast, is shot in silhouette creating this dramatic contrast and ensuring this image has a graphic element that I love so much.  The light hits the top of his head with none falling onto his face as he looks towards the ground, keeping an eye on his feet as he runs around with his brother on his back.  We can see his stunning profile and the smile visible on his face and yet there is mystery there too which makes me keep coming back to this shot.

I love how the boys are portrayed as a unit, playing together and enjoying themselves.  I also love how the light emphasises the differences too, different children with different personalities and both with so much to offer.

It’s an image with simple shapes and strong composition and I love everything about it.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about it, today’s sneak peek from this recent family photography session.