Its Technical! Environmental Portrait Photography
This month Sawidji Gallery features the works of contemporary artist Ellen Lane in the exhibition ‘Glass Doors and Bridges’. We visited and recorded some time with Ellen late last year in her artist studio. We share some of our portraits here as an example of how one’s environment can add dimension to a portrait.
Environmental Portrait Photography… Previously, we covered a little bit about the different types of portrait photography in ‘Think Portraiture with Topeng Keras‘. Portrait photography falls into several general categories and here we take a look at how the environment can help capture more of the character and mood of a person. The portraits of contemporary artist Ellen Lane, in her studio, are a great example of environmental portraits.
An environmental portrait is a portrait executed in the subject’s usual environment, such as in their home or workplace, and typically illuminates the subject’s life and surroundings. The term is most frequently used of a genre of photography.
Setting a portrait in this genre does not mean that it has to be always candid. Degrees of staging may be part of it and lighting as well. Getting to know the space and how natural light in the space falls, can perhaps be something interesting in your portrait.
A Room Tells a Story
Artists often take refuge in the space where they create. A portrait, in this space, can be very special. So, much of a room exudes their personal energy. Their handprint in that studio is in everything within the studio. The paint marks on the wall or the cuttings and bits of materials that may be left from a project. Not looking to present a clean white surface, every messy mark of an artist’s brushwork, a beautiful detail.
If a picture has a frame to set it, beyond that frame is the studio, the extension of the artwork.
As a point of difference from studio portraits in general, the environment of this type of portrait photography plays a large part in its storytelling.
Attributes of Environmental Portrait Photography
In studio portrait photography as well as candid portraits, it is common for a shallow depth of field to be applied. To bring into clearer focus the subject and blur the background.
In environmental photography, small apertures and a greater depth of field are more often used to allow the space to contribute to telling the visual story. These are not concrete rules of the genre, however, they give a good indication of what is important when taking an environmental portrait.
Ellen Lane’s works are featured this month in Sawidji Gallery. In Glass Doors and Bridges, Ellens abstract intuitve works shows a sensitive connection to nature and community. With an invitation to local artists from within the community to come and join a discussion on issues of segmentation and connections that occur within Bali’s diverse global communities.
Ellen has a connection also to those whose art is expressed through their photography. Her creative journey began through learning the art of photography. The creative doorway in her life was opened through the viewfinder of a camera.
In addition to being a wonderful example here in these portraits of ‘environmental portraiture’ as a genre, she also represents a creative journey that is not limited by a particular art discipline. As she began her creative journey through photography and later through painting and mixed media. Art has ways of transforming. Creativity is a powerful bridge, that can take you towards paths that you did not expect.
Glass Doors and Bridges
Art Exhibition ‘Glass Doors and Bridges’ featuring the works of Ellen Lane.
For artist biography, visit Ellen Lane.
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