Covid Photo Journal – Portrait en creux

The portrait en creux (or hollow portrait) may be my favorite technique yet. Basically, it’s a portrait of somebody without the ‘body’ part. I like that it’s simple and beautiful. They seem to say just as much, if not more, about the person than an actual portrait. A portrait shows how the person looks, a portrait en creux shows how the person lives.

april week 3 shoot2

This was a little tableau my mom left on the kitchen table before she left for work, which she shouldn’t be doing since we’re all under quarantine. The book is about victorian architecture and I wanted to get the spine title in the shot, but it just wasn’t possible with the composition I was going for. I like the symmetry and cool colors of this image. I also like how the tape on the book leads the eyes to the eyeglasses. The book acts as a pedestal for the glasses, almost implying how one can view the world through literature, which is something I learned from my mom.

 

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This is my grandma’s corkboard she left when she sold us the house. The contents are mostly Jill’s, but the photo of my grandma in the upper left was hilariously left by my grandma. This composition is a little scattered and dark with no clear subject, I don’t think it works very well. It was a much more colorful and friendly board during the Christmas seas, but we haven’t been receiving much mail because of the pandemic.

 

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These are Jill’s herbs and candle holder, with her dress eavesdropping in the background. I used the lowest aperture I could to let in more light and give me the shallow depth of field I was looking for. The symmetry of the composition doesn’t really work. The right side is only slightly heavier than the left, but not so much so to make it blatantly asymmetric. Although I think the dress in the background is a nice touch, I think it struggles for relevance within the composition. The texture here is wonderful. I even like the herb crumbs on the ledge.

april week 3 shoot2_3

I used the cool technique of focusing on a subject and then moving the camera here. I need a name for that technique – maybe focus shifting? Or something? I focused on Jill’s dress and then moved the camera lens directly behind her herbs. To my surprise, the camera maintained focus on the dress through the herbs. I really like this image. I like the voyeuristic aspect of it, like I’m peeping through trees. I also like the heavy shadow on the wall. It adds another layer of intrusion for me, as if I’m in an abandoned house or something.

 

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This is a nice little home and gardens snapshot of Jill’s spring planters. I considered moving them to be more symmetrical, but I thought the organic placement complemented the organic content. I think the texture here is a standout. It seems like the top planters are a little out of focus and I’m not sure why. The splash of green in the lower left is like foreshadowing, and the hint of another planter at the top implies repetition, like this collection of pots go on forever.

 

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Here is a hollow family portrait. My mom’s unfinished watercolor has the most visual weight here, but Jill’s plant is a close second. My bike hanging out in the background says a lot about our current living situation. I spend a lot of time exercising or in another room, while my mom and Jill are still working. When they aren’t working, my mom is painting and Jill is planting. Again, I didn’t have to move anything to make this image work. I think the composition itself is a little lazy, but as a hollow portrait, it’s spot on.

 

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This last one is hilariously sad. The day of my cousin Sam’s birthday party last April, my uncle Tim was brought a bear by the DEC. Apparently, a bear crawled into some guy’s house the night prior and the guy shot the bear with an AR-15. The DEC needed to do something with the dead bear, so they brought it to my uncle to butcher in exchange for a case of beer. I wouldn’t believe this story if the DEC truck wasn’t at his house when we arrived at the party, and if the truck didn’t reappear with a case of Coors later that night. Uncle Tim sent me home with this bear loin roast and tragically died in a motorcycle accident a few weeks later. It has been in our freezer ever since. We didn’t know how to cook a bear loin roast and he was going to show us. I had to throw it away this week because it was gross and freezer burned, but I wanted to make sure I always remember this tall tale. There’s also a photo of me and Uncle Tim playing beer pong on the same team that night, he’s wearing a gross pink inflatable fat suit. I wouldn’t make this shit up.

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