Same Model Different Backgrounds

As previously discussed the living room has been regularly used by professional photographers as a portrait studio (here) and is even more commonly the less intentional studio of the amateur as the backdrop to family portraits and photo memories of celebrations. In this series I wanted to combine the vernacular family portrait and the more structured use of the home as a studio.

The first shoot is of a single subject in different home locations. Having used artificial lighting quite regularly over the last few months I wanted to work with natural light. This first series  primarily references Nigel Shafran’s work; the model is my wife, Sharon, whom I have been photographing for over forty years and is central to my life, I sense that Shafran’s relation with Ruth is not dissimilar.

Shafran uses domestic settings and natural lighting to achieve a straight documentary record and I have attempted to work in the same way. I have also set out to incorporate elements into the portraits that reveal something of Sharon’s’ identity although this is challenging in five pictures. I believe the most effective way to achieve would be to include still life photographs of domestic detail which is the the approach taken by Shafran in Ruth Book and Flowers for …. (1), Julian Germaine in For Every Minute …. (2) and Kaylynn Deveney in The day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings (3).

I have inserted just a few of the many family photographs that are in every room in Sharon’s home which references all three practitioners mentioned above and specifically the use of the family album in For Every Minute….

Fig. 01 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 01 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 02 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 02 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 02 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 03 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 04 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 04 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 03 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 05 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 04 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 06 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 04 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 07 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 08 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 08 Steve Middlehurst 2016

Fig. 05 Steve Middlehurst 2014

Fig. 9 Steve Middlehurst 2016



(1) Shafran, Nigel (2004) Edited Photographs 1992 – 2004. Brighton: Photoworks and Steidl

(2) Germain, Julian (2005) For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness (Third Edition 2014) MACK

(3) Deveney, Kaylynn (2007) The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings. New York: Princeton Architectural Press


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2 Responses to Same Model Different Backgrounds

  1. Catherine says:

    That’s a very good idea Steve and you’ve chosen some very appropriate photographers to reference there. No 4 and no. 8 seem to be the same though.
    I do particularly like the ones of Ruth by Shafran – there’s a lovely earlier series of her on the phone.

  2. Thank you Catherine – I’ve replaced number 8. Nigel Shafran’s Edited Photographs, the Photoworks book, includes excerpts from each of his series up until 2004 so Ruth on the Phone is there as well. I like his work very much, his charity shop series is excellent, I’ve often wanted to do something similar at car boot sales.

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