A photo a day – portrait or snapshot?

I took my exhibition photos to Keith’s today. He’s a fellow exhibitor at Bank Street Arts and kindly agreed to take my images up to Sheffield when he takes his. I’d not met Keith in person and when we (Karen and me) arrived he gave us tea in his garden and I took this shot.

The image is the result of a process that is almost the opposite of some of Keith’s portraits. Whereas he describes a meticulous and deliberately slow  process in his Women in Landscapes series (link) this image above was captured with a Sony RX100 Mark 2 in within a few seconds of him sitting down, me whipping out the camera and shooting.

I didn’t negotiate the portrait with Keith or look at the image I’d captured. He is looking at me rather than the camera lens stationed low. The camera was set its widest aperture (F/1.8) with that as priority and spot metered for exposure and focus. But not only was the process different but the equipment also: Keith’s film camera – all 4kgs of it – sat in the corner of a room whereas my camera sat in my pocket. For these reasons I think my image is much more akin to a vernacular snap shot than a portrait. Do you?

Keith is the first OCA student I have met in person – weird when you think I have been studying with them since 2010. I should meet another, Rob (also exhibiting at Bank Street Arts), this Wednesday at the Graduation Ceremony. I am looking forward to that.


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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12 Responses to A photo a day – portrait or snapshot?

  1. Great to meet up Pete…..and thank for the portrait….it was a quick process as you say. See you in Sheffield soon.


  2. Rob says:

    Car nearly ready for the trip down to London – won’t be long now!!!


  3. Catherine says:

    How does one judge.? This has resonance for me because I’ve met Keith in person several times and you’ve captured his persona for me, so what is really the difference between this and ‘portrait’. I guess the three of us could debate this for hours!

    Hoping the Ceremony goes well tonight and looking forward to seeing more photographs. Congratulations again on your achievement.


  4. anomiepete says:

    Thanks Catherine. The ceremony is tomorrow at 2.30 🙂


  5. Enjoy your day at the graduation, Pete. Regarding the image; the process of making an image is always significant and relevant to a full reading, I think. However, I don’t think it need be part of a distinction between a ‘portrait’ and a ‘snap’ (if, indeed, there need be any difference between those anyway – they’re not mutually exclusive). I’ve never met either of you, but I can read plenty into the image. For example, you may not have negotiated, but Keith is definitely ‘performing’ for the camera. There is potential significance in the angle of the shot, too, I’d say.


    • anomiepete says:

      Thanks Stan. The sun is shining so that’s a good sign. Of courseyour correct in your reading of the image – the camera would probably no more the two foot of the ground as I held it in my lap.


  6. dougslr says:

    Pete, trust the graduation went off well. I have two perspectives, firstly, I believe it is is a portrait even though taken quickly. Keith almost appears uncomfortable in the way in which he is sitting and looking. The latter as a result of the camera position as you point out. Secondly, living so far away, I always enjoy “meeting” fellow OCAers via their images and inputs to the posts, so thanks for this portrait of Keith.


    • anomiepete says:

      Thanks Doug – I must say it seems quite odd to have met at least four students in the past week having never before met any in person. It’s all the more strange when you know them so well virtually.
      All the best


  7. elmediat says:

    It has the atmosphere of a vernacular snapshot, but computationally you have meticulously maintain the codes & conventions of artistic portrait. Well done. 🙂


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