People & Place- Assignment 1- The Portrait

For this assignment, we had to take between 5 and 7 different portrait photos drawing on what we had learnt throughout the “people aware” section.

I decided, for this assignment, to use my sister Tiffany as my subject. In order to prepare, I first downloaded some pose guides that I had previously found on the Digital Photography School website.

With these I hoped to get some inspiration for different poses and I also arranged to meet and discuss them with Tiffany to see which ones she would be willing to try and think of variations to them. When we met up, we also discussed when and where the images could be taken and any particular outfits she would like to be photographed in. By doing this, I hoped that it would make Tiffany feel more comfortable and in control of the photo session.

Some of the locations we thought of using were

  • The gardens of Shugborough Hall
  • Trentham Gardens
  • Her home
  • My home
  • Victoria Park (local town park)

After further thought, I decided to use Trentham Gardens. I had looked to use this for another assignment but it didn’t work very well, however it seemed the perfect location for this assignment as it has a variety of areas that could be used for the images. The areas I was particularly interested in were The Trentham Hall remains, the Italian Gardens, the woodlands and the Trellis walk.

Although the assignment brief suggests completing the assignment over a few photo sessions, I felt that by choosing Trentham Gardens as the location, I would be able to find enough variations to satisfy the brief.

Throughout the session, I wanted to keep the focus on Tiffany and not just the requirement for the assignment. So while I was shooting, I kept thinking to myself “Is this a photo I would like to keep?”, “Will Tiffany be happy with these?” As I would like to progress into a career in portrait photography, I really wanted to look at it from a paying client perspective.

After the photo session, I whittled the 50 photos I had taken down to 19 and printed off a contact sheet so I could review them at my leisure and pick the final images. Although there were some clear choices, I wasn’t sure whether to go for DSC1923 or DSC1947_edited1 as they were both very similar and I really liked both of them.



Image 1

Image 1


Settings used F/3.5, 1/20, ISO200, 28mm focal length and white balance set to Daylight

The first shot was a full figure shot. I chose the arches as the location as it complemented Tiffany well and it was neat and tidy so there was very little preparation required. The only slight issue was some lettering etched into the wall by Tiffany’s face, I could have taken this out using Photoshop but felt it wasn’t too distracting and gives the location a sense of its present use. I positioned Tiffany in the shade with the sun coming in between the pillars behind so that the harsh light would not spoil the details on Tiffany but the sunlight in the background helps to add depth and interest to the image. I also had Tiffany look away from the camera to help add interest and a bit of intrigue to the image. The variations on the pose we did were Tiffany standing with her back to the pillar, side on but legs uncrossed and front to pillar with head turned towards the camera. Finally, I varied the focal length and my distance from Tiffany, with the image above I was stood about 2 metres from her and felt that by using a 20mm focal length I was able to capture enough detail and not lose too much of the background.

 Image 2

Image 2

Settings used F/5.6, 1/60, ISO200, 55mm focal length and white balance set to daylight

With this image, I simply took a head and shoulders shot with the leafy grass as the background as I felt this was quite complementary to Tiffany and help to make her stand out. As this is quite an intimate shot, I decided it would work better if Tiffany was looking directly at the camera. Also with it being a close up shot, I took it with a 55mm focal length. I did look at using a larger focal length; however I really like how the image came out by using this focal length. On the day that I did the photo session, the light was changing quite a lot so I took this when there was cloud overhead so I could make good use of the softer light. The variations on the pose were just the head and shoulders and with both hands by face, one with her hands either side of her face and one with both hands on one side.

Image 3

Image 3

Settings used F/4.5, 1/60, ISO200, 44mm focal length and white balance set to shade

I chose to take this image on a stone bench as I felt it really lent itself quite well to this sort of pose and framed it as a torso shot so the arms and hands could be included. It was also shaded by trees which gave soft lighting. As it is quite an intimate shot, I asked Tiffany to look directly at the camera. Due to the close nature of the shot, I chose to use a 44mm focal length as it is more flattering to Tiffany’s facial features.

Image 4

SONY DSCSettings used F/5.6, 1/60, ISO200, 76mm focal length and white balance set to Daylight

This is mainly a torso shot, taking into account the arms and hands; however three quarters of Tiffany can be seen. I liked this location as it is quite a “regal” location which works well with Tiffany and allowed me to recreate the classic pose from the “Pride and Prejudice” era of a lady looking out over the balcony. In recreating this pose I asked Tiffany to look away from the camera and into the distance. We varied the pose by having her lean on the balustrade on her forearms and asking her to stand upright and lean with her hands on the balustrade. Due to the location I had to position myself quite far away from Tiffany so I used a 76mm focal length. We also timed the shot, as it was positioned directly in the sunlight, when the sun had just gone behind the clouds so it wouldn’t be too bright and cause Tiffany to be squinting or uncomfortable.

Image 5

Image 5

Settings used f/5.6, 1/80, ISO200, 55mm focal length, white balance set to Daylight

For this image, I really liked the background with the flowers and plants as it is quite a soft background and not too distracting for the viewer. Although it is a full figure shot, I used a 55mm focal length to help balance Tiffany’s features. I positioned Tiffany with the sun coming in from the top right hand corner so her face and body was in the shade/shadow as I felt this worked better than having the direct light and it isn’t too dark that her features are disguised. This was the last image to be taken and was not planned so there were no variations. It wasn’t until I started to edit the images that I thought it would be a good image to use for my assignment.

Image 6

Image 6

Settings used f/4.5, 1/160, ISO200, 32mm focal length, white balance set to Daylight

I chose to use the steps from one of the old Trentham buildings as I felt they were a good contrast to Tiffany and I am drawn to these buildings. I also liked how much they contrast against the rest of Trentham gardens which are very manicured and well kept. I used a 32mm focal length which I think works well, considering I was restricted in how far back I could stand from Tiffany, however I would have preferred to use a larger focal length. Again I took this just as the sun had gone behind the clouds so I was able to really make Tiffany stand out against the dull and deteriorated background.


Initially, I was very nervous about doing the assignment, as although I would like a career in portrait photography, I have very little experience in it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it as it gave me the chance to practice directing people while photographing them and it really helped me to build confidence in my work and abilities.

The only problem I encountered was when it came to taking a close up photo. I found when I tried it, and although I didn’t get too close to Tiffany, I felt really awkward and as if I was invading her personal space. I feel that with more practice I will be able to move past this though.


About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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