“You need to be at peace in order to take a good photograph.” Those were the words of Leica photographer Mathias Heng, talking over a boisterous crowd in a barbershop in Little India, Singapore. His words didn’t resonate with me at the time, as I was busy trying to frame-up an annoyed looking customer mid-shave. As I think back to that day, however, I realise the significance of that advice: there’s undoubtedly an important dynamic between personal calm and powerful portrait photography...Read More
PHOTOGRAPHERS TO INSPIRE
A mistake I made for a long time was looking to gear for inspiration, but there are so many great photographers out there making so much great work that it's really hard to keep this brief.
Start with people I look to for Composition..
Alex Webb – for complex street scenes that are chaotic but balanced in both colour and composition. Tells complex stories in a single frame and so good to look at. He’s one of the very best out there https://webbnorriswebb.wordpress.com/ -
Henri Cartier Bresson – Godfather of composition, use of shapes and balanced frames, was a painter then founded magnum with Robert Capa. Work might seem dated, but laid the groundwork for a lot of photography as we know it today.. https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYN
More information on Henri can be found here
Matt Stuart – London Street photographer who very intelligently composes his scenes to tell witty and often socially aware stories but still producing beautiful images. Bridges the gap between humour and beauty. http://www.mattstuart.com/photography/tqzpf859421njkn58ppuql6y0xaw5b ..each image takes time to digeset, to find the visual play.. Then you find it and it’s like ‘woooah’. It’s good.
Arnold Newman – Frames within frames my friend. My favourite quote of his goes something like ‘photography is 90% moving furniture, and 10% taking pictures’ http://arnoldnewman.com/content/portraits-0
Travel / documentary
Christopher Anderson – Big influence, really amazing editorial documentary and travel photographer. Shoots Nikon which I like and massively just jumps in and gets to the heart of the stories. No idea how he produces such photogenic work in the situations he finds himself in https://www.christopherandersonphoto.com/EDITORIAL/NATIONAL-GEOGRAPHIC/thumbs
He did this series on escaping Haiti by boat which is just woah.. so full of real emotion https://pro.magnumphotos.com/Catalogue/Christopher-Anderson/2000/HAITI-Immigrants-Trip-to-America-NN110503.html also his portrait of chuck close is amazing - https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/07/17/magazine/17close6/17close6-articleLarge.jpg crazy framing, really intimate, it’s great. His face is like a landscape.
Bruce Davidson – Documentary photographer https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRGWPTUMD – reminds me a little of John Bulmer, proper legend in the field.
Mary Ellen Mark - http://www.maryellenmark.com/ - amazing story teller, beautiful image maker.
Sebastio Salgado – Bit of a legend, very powerful contrasty black and white images. Very deep blacks and great technical control.. Was an economist before he was a photographer, so have a soft spot for his work
Portrait / people with great control of light -
Nadav Kander – Top of the portrait game, http://www.nadavkander.com/portraits/portraits/single meticulous control of light leads to some of the most stunning portraits but his landscape work from China is also pinnacle. Think he shot it just to prove he could and it’s so well done that everyone must want him to fuck off … http://www.nadavkander.com/works-in-series/yangtze-the-long-river/single
Bryan Shutmatt – shoots large format, not a great deal of his work out there but his read on light is amazing … http://www.bryanschutmaat.com/grays/ - that particular series he shot in the small mountain town is absolutely beautiful.
Spencer Murphy – Great modern portrait photographer http://spencermurphy.co.uk/project/portfolio/#20
Jack Davison – Really modern and one to watch I reckon, went from nothing to shooting for the New York times in the space of a year it seems. Really forward thinking and creative portrait photographer.. lots of distortion and personality in his work https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=jack+davison&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=950&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjuxPnkm7XSAhULB8AKHaX0Af0Q_AUICCgB seems to have taken a lot of his work offline which is a shame.
To start off the guide to portraiture series, we look at some of the greats to better understand what makes a successful portrait.Read More