This typology features nine people in their working environment on a small, rural, light-industrial estate. The composition and lighting aims to focus attention on the subject to ensure these pictures represent portraits of the subjects and by using a wide frame and deep depth of field to include their workplace they emphasise a single aspect of the subjects’ identities. This approach references the work of August Sander who used clothing and tools-of the-trade to signify his subjects’ social class and profession but in a day and age where work clothes are more generic and less diagnostic a wider view of the work environment is required to achieve the same result.
In addition to adopting Sander’s method of using props to classify the subject I have also often used his technique of photographing from below the subject’s eye-line; this enables the subject to dominate the composition and acquire a nearly heroic stature. I have also adopted Diane Arbus and Martin Parr’s approach of using flash both indoors and outside to serrate the subject from the often cluttered backgrounds.
We look for the influence of the photographer across a series of portraits but the most powerful individual studies are those that focus on the subject to exclusion of the photographer. To achieve this there must be the minimum of intervention and artifice, the pose must be subject led to reflect their self perception, the composition direct, and the lighting non intrussive. I have tried to learn from Diane Arbus’s deceptively simple approach of lighting, composition and pose that make her portraits particularly intense and personal.