Roswell Angier, (2015) Train Your Gaze, (2nd ed.) London; New York: Bloomsbury, ISBN: 978-1-4725-2510-9.
Divided into eleven chapters, each chapter ends with an assignment to put into practice the portraiture style that is discussed for that chapter, thus this book provides precisely what its title implies. That is teaching the various theoretical styles that have been developed by artists from the beginning of photography to present day and offering practical exercises to put these techniques into practice for the student photographer /artist.
This book is as much about reading photographs as well as composing them, by critically deconstructing the example images to illustrate layers of meaning that can be drawn from images and thus helping students create more interesting and meaningful work.
Bullet points for the topics discussed as useful themes and compositions.
- Face / No face / Representation by Shadows / Views form behind / frames image within an image.
- Using the edge of the frame as an active part of the image / energy gathering around the edges / moving into or out of the frame.
- Filling the frame / use of telephoto lenses / flattening perspective.
- Portraiture as narrative / story / documentary.
- Voyeurism / Surveillance, either in secret or openly.
- Portrait – Cartes de Visite / The mirror and mask / Masquerade / Alternative selves.
- Bulls-eye – placing the subject in the centre.
- Zen Archery – (kyudo) a Japanese form of archery using the power of contemplation / meditation – using instinct to compose and aim with little thought.
- Backgrounds and backdrops.
- Points of focus and points of blur / Subject in foreground blurred for meaning.
- Darkened eyes / suggesting a something vacant or missing from the subject.
- Open flash – Slow shutter speed 1/15sec or slower combined with a flash that will freeze the subject at 1/1000sec and then the subject or other objects continue moving during the time of the open shutter creating an illusion of movement / action.
- Figures in landscape / this harks back to considerations of the background.
- Tableaux / images constructed to imply a story or narrative. This could mimic a famous oil painting of perhaps a religious or mythological scene reproduced in a modern contemporary setting and attaching a new meaning to it such as political or social. It could be staged to act out a pregnant moment in a family scene.
- Re-enacting an old photograph to change its meaning or bringing up to date the subject in the old image by asking that person to resit in the same pose as for the original picture.
- Studium & Punctum – Roland Barthes theory of elements of an image that makes a good photograph.
- ‘Studium’, creates a pleasing looking composition, possibly through balance and design. ‘Studium’ creates an image that is pleasing or interesting; but will not have that something extra to make it stand out as remarkable or necessarily memorable.
- ‘Punctum’, is a ‘punctuation’ within the image it maybe the main subject or just an element within the image that creates an emotional response to the viewer. This element may not always create the same response to all viewers but a strong Punctum element should.
- Barthes suggested that ‘Punctum’ is connected with memory, an element in the photo that sparks a recognition or a stored memory that ‘pricks’ the viewer’s senses.
- A ‘Punctum’ can sometimes be recognised after the viewing of the image, as a reflection of the observed picture.
- Digital montage, for multiple images of one person, or construction of a tableaux.
- Digital manipulation of old family / found photos for new narratives.
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