Ross Taylor Deconstructs the Image
Here is Ross’s account of one of his images (each week will bring a new story and photographer)…
I had an assignment to cover a historical reenactment in Norfolk. It was billed as an event with scores of people, but in reality, there were only three reenactors and few visitors. There wasn’t much to document as far as moments and the other two reenactors to me weren’t that striking visually.
But to me, this boy was. I thought he looked interesting, and that he could make for a striking portrait.
I pulled him off to the side and requested he stand in front of a white wall for a portrait. I started making portraits of him, taking dozens of pictures. After more than 5 minutes of making his portrait, I could tell he was becoming a little uncomfortable with the attention, so I stopped.
I didn’t like the picture, and thought there was possibly more to look for – so after 15 minutes, I went back to the boy and asked if he could stand again for me. He was a little nervous but he agreed. I made dozens of more pictures but I could tell he was tense and it showed in his facial structure.
You can see the tenseness in his jaw.
It’s a common in portraiture – people bear a lot of tension in their mouth area. It’s clearly visible here.
I kept trying to help him relax but everything I did wasn’t working. I felt at this point I was asking too much of
him to keep standing for a portrait, so we parted.
I shot other aspects of the re-enactment for more than 30 minutes, but I kept thinking of the boy. I hadn’t made an image that was reflective of his unique appearance. I also knew, however, if I asked him to stand one more time that he would be very tense. His father was there, and I thought perhaps having his dad around would make the child more relaxed.
I asked the father to stand behind me and then asked him to just talk with his son, to help him trust me, and
I noticed immediately that his jaw was more relaxed and his face seemed to open up. I began making pictures of the son and showing it to them. They both liked it and at that point everyone was much more loose. It became much easier to photograph him at this point.
I finally made this image which was the one we went with for the newspaper the next day – one of close to 300 images.
This image was made in broad daylight with no flash. It was a partly cloudy day and I took the image when the sun would go behind the clouds. I photographed him with a 85mm lens shot at 1.8 in front of a white brick wall. I also overexposed it some to give it a white-washed look, which helped wash out the texture of the bricks.