Image of the Week #9 – Family Portrait
My Image of the Week is a slight diversion from the norm. We were re-hanging some wall pictures at home, and came across this family portrait of Amanda’s grandpa, Bob, taken back in 1982. My camera at the time was a Nikon FM, and my film of choice was Kodak Tri-X. I used to develop film myself then, and used D76 in a steel tank to process the rolls, then after drying I’d print the negatives through a De Vere enlarger, Nikon lens again, onto Agfa Brovira paper. How times have changed, and not for the worse – I used to hate darkroom work!
This image is a photograph of the original print, through glass, so please forgive the lack of crispness. I like the photo for all sorts of reasons, one of the most important being that this is an enduring record of a family member who has passed away. How valuable does a picture become when it represents the fond memory of someone? This is really why I love wedding and portrait photography – to create records of our loved ones’ lives.
I like the composition of the image. It was taken at Stanton Drew, an ancient stone circle monument, which Bob spent many happy years studying. Bob is framed about two thirds of the way across the image, and facing out, so the negative space behind him is filled with the powerful angle of the standing stone, pulling strongly in the opposite direction to his gaze.
Anchoring these two elements is the huge dark brooding tree behind, majestically framing Bob’s head and shoulders. I like the camera strap echoing the angle of the stone, and I like that his hands are in frame (tight here I know, but they’re in!) holding his notebook. The horizon cuts across the middle, unifying the upper and lower elements of the frame, and encouraging lateral movement – your eye moves around the image in a circle, leading from the face, left onto the diagonal stone, drawn up towards the black mass of the tree, and back down the figure. The shapes within the picture are a rectangle, a triangle and a circle – very elemental.