My environmental portraits

In order to explore this area further I took up the challenge to visit local businesses and ask if I could take photos of them in their working environment. I decided to choose professions where I felt the locality would reflect the person in the image and on each occasion I obtained permission and promised to email a copy of the image if they desired.

Below are the contact sheet images.

Environmental Images - Contact Sheet

Environmental Images – Contact Sheet

Environmental Images - Contact Sheet 2

Environmental Images – Contact Sheet 2

I have highlighted in green the image I chose. Where there are two images I used both to make a single composite image.

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Ambition - HairdressersCreation date: 10/12/2012 14:13 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 31 mm (equiv. 46 mm) Aperture: F9 Exposure time: 1/80" ISO speed rating: 3200/36° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Pattern White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Ambition – Hairdressers
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:13
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 31 mm (equiv. 46 mm)
Aperture: F9
Exposure time: 1/80″
ISO speed rating: 3200/36°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Pattern
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

Pastrycook 1928 August Sander. It was this image that I had in my mind when taking the above picture. They are both in their work environments, neither is smiling or seems happy about having their picture taken.

Pastrycook 1928 August Sander. It was this image that I had in my mind when taking the above picture. They are both in their work environments, neither is smiling or seems happy about having their picture taken.

I took this at my local hairdressers, I wanted to include the tools of the trade rather than include other people getting haircuts as this would have over complicated the image and would have required multiple permissions and disturbing customers. The hairdresser himself was very reluctant to get his picture taken so I opted for a shallow depth of field so it would blur him out a little and I used the scissors in the foreground as my point of focus.

Once in Photoshop I decided to change any part of the image that was reflected into black and white, this is because I wanted to make the scissors stand out more and help draw the viewers attention.

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Crown Jewellers.Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:59 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm) Aperture: F3.5 Exposure time: 1/100" ISO speed rating: 500/28° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Spot White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Crown Jewellers.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:59
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm)
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure time: 1/100″
ISO speed rating: 500/28°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Spot
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

I was hoping that the jewellers would have been more like this image with lots of objects but the shop ended up being very clean and uncluttered.

I was hoping that the jewellers would have been more like this image with lots of objects but the shop ended up being very clean and uncluttered.

My next place to visit was my local jewellery store. Crown Jewellers is a family business which I thought was quite unique because the owner is quite young but the store was very empty with only a few display cabinets. I used this angle for two reasons, firstly it encompassed the majority of the shops display and this helped to place the subject in the middle of his environment and secondly I wanted to use the row of large cabinets on the left to lead the viewer into the image. I also liked the advertising poster on the end which balances the image and returns the viewer back to the subject. Overall I would have liked there to be a lot more jewellery on display and would have preferred the owner to have been wearing a suit and there was very little to link the person to their job. If I was going to take an image like this again I may ask them to be working on a machine or surround them with objects, similar to Arnold Newman’s image of Jackson Pollock.

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Carol's Sewing Services.Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:37 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 26 mm (equiv. 39 mm) Aperture: F3.8 Exposure time: 1/100" ISO speed rating: 1600/33° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Pattern White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Carol’s Sewing Services.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:37
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 26 mm (equiv. 39 mm)
Aperture: F3.8
Exposure time: 1/100″
ISO speed rating: 1600/33°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Pattern
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

sewing cecil beaton

Both these images influenced me when making both the above image of the seamstress and the below image in costa coffee

Both these images influenced me when making both the above image of the seamstress and the below image in costa coffee

Both these images influenced me when making both the above image of the seamstress and the below image in costa coffee

When I went to my local tailors/dressmakers shop I was hoping for something full of clothes, textures and tailoring patterns. However the shop was devoid of everything accept a couple of sewing machines and a dress hanging up. My choice of angles was quite limited I wanted one like Cecil BEatons Image on the right but I went with the above as the sewing machine at the front could at least lead the viewer into the picture. The only other addition to the image was that I asked the subject to work on something so at least they were sewing. Afterwards I noticed similarities to Lee Friedlanders image on the left as the both held their hands in a similar position.

In terms of an environmental image it really struggles, there was just not enough environment to work with but I have included it here as an example where the plan did not quite work out.

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Costa Coffee.Creation date: 10/12/2012 15:04 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 50 mm (equiv. 75 mm) Aperture: F3.5 Exposure time: 1/20" ISO speed rating: 500/28° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Spot White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Costa Coffee.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 15:04
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 50 mm (equiv. 75 mm)
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure time: 1/20″
ISO speed rating: 500/28°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Spot
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

The next image was quite unplanned. I only went into Costa Coffee for a drink and decided to ask if they minded me taking a picture of them while they made it. The layout of the store allowed me to take the photo using a side view of the coffee machine and I wanted to get a shallow depth of field so I could isolate the subject from the busy background. I had in my mind the type of shot I was after and I waited for the shot where all the steam pours out of the machine. I also included all the used coffee cups at the front the machine. The angle and the concentration of the person using the machine reminded me of Lee Friedlanders image (above). Both have been taken side on and both are hard at work.

I felt that this image works because it shows the person in the act of doing their job, I could have used a wider angle but it would have lost the detail in the action that was happening at the machine. I also like the way the lighting in this image bounces back off the machine to illuminate the person using it.

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Sandalls Butchers.Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:53 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 32 mm (equiv. 48 mm) Aperture: F4.2 Exposure time: 1/125" ISO speed rating: 1600/33° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Spot White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Sandalls Butchers.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:53
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 32 mm (equiv. 48 mm)
Aperture: F4.2
Exposure time: 1/125″
ISO speed rating: 1600/33°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Spot
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

It was this image that I thought of when taking the butchers image. They both had a feeling of the master and apprentice with the older and younger people in it. Especially with the older person watching on.

It was this image that I thought of when taking the butchers image. They both had a feeling of the master and apprentice with the older and younger people in it. Especially with the older person watching on.

When I went into the local butchers I had in my mind to take a shot of one of the staff cutting up a fresh carcass. However I was unwilling to ask for too much and settled for this angle. I used the counter as a leading line and included all the various meats that are on display. I took a few images but I chose this one because the senior butcher came through from the back at took a similar stance to my main subject, like the master checking on his apprentice. I had already decided on a larger depth of field so I new that he would have also been in focus.

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Specsavers.Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:28 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm) Aperture: F3.5 Exposure time: 1/80" ISO speed rating: 640/29° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Pattern White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Specsavers.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:28
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm)
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure time: 1/80″
ISO speed rating: 640/29°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Pattern
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

This image was my influence again. This time is was because of the repetition of the objects which relate to the subject.

This image was my influence again. This time is was because of the repetition of the objects which relate to the subject.

My local opticians was one of the places that was looking forward to visiting as I new the shop was full of glasses. One of the younger assistants was happy to pose for me so I took him surrounded by his product. I included the rack of glasses in the foreground to give the image depth but my point of focus was the main subject. I wanted a shallower depth of field but due to the wide angle I needed and the distance I was from the subject this had to be achieved later in Photoshop. I liked the subject and I thought that due to him wearing glasses he suited his environment well. One final area that I nearly missed was in the reflection from the mirror is an advert and I thought it looked like a face watching the proceedings.

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Rights Lights. Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:48 Camera: NIKON D300 Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm) Aperture: F3.5 Exposure time: 1/40" ISO speed rating: 400/27° Program: Aperture priority Metering Mode: Spot White Balance: Auto Flash: Flash did not fire

Rights Lights.
Creation date: 10/12/2012 14:48
Camera: NIKON D300
Focal length: 18 mm (equiv. 27 mm)
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure time: 1/40″
ISO speed rating: 400/27°
Program: Aperture priority
Metering Mode: Spot
White Balance: Auto
Flash: Flash did not fire

My final place to visit was almost an afterthought but once I walked in I new that this would make a good image. The shop is quite small and it is littered with the products that they sell. they are on stands, walls, floors and ceilings so it was quite difficult to find a place that I could stand. I opted for the above angle as I thought it placed the subject right in the centre of their world. I included the lights in the foreground hanging from the roof to add depth and to help frame and with the lamps at the side it helps to frame the subject inside her products. Due to the nature of the shop there was light coming from every direction which confused the camera so I used a spot meter from the subject and then all I lowered the brightness of some of the lights in Photoshop.

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