As part of my investigations into family photography I looked at Tina Barney who made staged images.
Born in 1945 into a wealthy family she took images of her family. Tina preferred to stage her shots yet aspects still had a candid feel to them. In this image there is a mix of activity, the person in the front has been posed, her body language is similar to that used by glamour models, behind her another member of the family is paying attention to the photographer and watching the proceedings. Also in the scene are a woman and girl talking, there expressions suggest that they were asked to pose in this way as they seem unable to contain their laughter. What is also unusual is that at least 3 of the subjects are wearing different outfits made from the same material. I have no doubt that these outfits are probably by some famous designer but it reminds me of families in poverty where clothes would be made from whatever material was at hand for as many members of the family as possible or clothes would be passed on from one sibling to another. The homes opulence is evident, with luxury items and the large painting clear displays of wealth. Technically she would not have needed a small aperture to ensure that she had enough depth of field to keep everyone in focus as she would have used quite a wide angle to fit everyone in. This would also help with the lighting which looks very even and most likely taken using a matrix metering mode so the camera balanced the light throughout the image.
Through the 1970’s Tina’s passion for photography grew but she continued to use her family as her main subject, bringing an insight into the lives that most people never got to see. The above image is similar to the last but looks to me though she has chosen to take this just prior to them being posed. I thought the people that in the image fit so neatly into the stereotype that you would expect of the wealthy. The younger kids have matching outfits with the older girl progressing onto a more formal outfit. The adults clothing with the typical blue blazer and outlandish orange trousers or the designer perfectly fitting dress complete the ensemble. I would suggest that this was taken just prior to a formal family portrait and no expense has been spared to present the family correctly Technically she could have used similar settings as the last image, the angle is once again wide enough to use a larger aperture, thus keeping sufficient depth of field and .
This last image shows how her work progressed but she stayed with her posed style. This one has been staged to such a degree that it actually starts to look like an advertisement from a 1980’s home style magazine. The room has been decorated to fit in with the current trends and styles of the time and everyone has been posed to look like they are going about their normal lives. On this occasion Tina has had problems wit the contrast between the bright white areas such as the door and the bright colours. She has chosen to expose for the people but this has left the the whites over exposed. It is quite possible that she could have corrected this in the dark room but decided to leave it as it was. Another consistent aspect of her style is that she has a habit of cropping away parts of the subjects that are close to the edge.
This posed casual style is something I will look at when making my own images over Christmas.