<<< o >>>things have changed 43 comments + add yours

I've spend quite a lot of time recently chatting to John about the composition of shots that contain people, and how the choices we make as we compose or edit or work affects the way in which an image is read. With that in mind, what stories does this tell? What is it about this composition that leads you to view the subject in a particular way? Or maybe there isn't anything special or different about this one, and it's me who's looking at it from my own perspective. I don't know, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
2.07pm on 4/1/06
Canon 20D
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
17mm (27mm equiv.)
aperture priority
C1 Pro
1x1 + people [portraiture] + urban
comment by Weston Boyd at 08:51 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Nicely done.

comment by Monika at 09:08 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

very nice

comment by rob at 09:09 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

i love the eyes they tell something they look forward ..great stuff, very creative David

comment by Jide Alakija at 09:23 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Well, I'm no expert I put a shot of a person on my site and reception was quite an interesting one.

As for yours what comes to mind is really, what's in his mind? What kind of day has he had, what does he do? That kind of thing.

comment by nuno f at 09:29 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Of course everyone have its own way to see portraits. For me, I tend to look to the emotion that is present in the expression, or sometimes, I'm attracted to some particular detail that that can make me like the photo. Most of the times I only need to look to the eyes of the person that was photographed. It can be so many things at the same time that it's difficult to tell you exactly the main reason.

For this portrait, the fact that the subject is from the side, makes this a different aproach to the usual full frontal composition. The viewer wonder to what the man is thinking or to what he was looking at that time. The black & white choice contributes to the global emotion of this photo.

comment by Dave at 09:34 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

For me this image is all about a glimmer and ember a flicker of hope left... twenty years ago this man could have been on the road to a place where he wanted to go..Now he is not... But, yet, I still see a man not quite defeated.. he still harbours the thoughts of positive possibilities.. His lips apear pursed ready to respond to your questioning.. your contract.. There's something disturbing and unreal about this image.. like you don't really know him or your relationship is not genuine.. Are you thinking, 'I can get a great image out of this guy?' Is he thinking ; 'I can get a quid or a pint off this fella with the expensive camera?' Or is it his loneliness I see.. the fact that someone has bothered to talk to him..I have the impression that you have made his aquaintance before but it is only that.. He has not been welcomed into your home, your wolrd. The light on his face whether natural or dodged by yourself in photoshop does not offer a new dawn for him.. it is not real. I hope my comments don't in anyway offend. You asked for our views and this is what I see in the image.. I wish him and yourself all the best for tomorrow and congratulate you on a superb portfolio

comment by Aaron Schmidt at 09:37 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Nice sharp image. I love the background in this, as if it's part of his memory not the photo.

comment by Geoff at 09:37 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

I don't know... Tight portrait. Profile. No environmental info, except that it's outside. I suppose the clothes and hair tell us a little about him, but only a little. I don't like his head being cut off. And I think his expression is a bit tense and posed. No, it doesn't say anything to me. As far as portraits go, I like there to be a bit more character evident.

comment by Roger at 09:39 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Interesting portrait. Not the shot it's self but the person. This person seems to me to have several different qualities in one face.

comment by joan at 10:02 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

I see more about the photographer than the subject in this shot because of the beautiful human dignity you manage to impart. I've seen that in many of your other portraits - even in ones portraying very sordid human conditions.

comment by Chris at 10:47 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Beautiful portrait. I would be proud to have taken this. Everything seems to be right on!

comment by Lee at 11:12 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

It looks like he is posing for a camera in front of him, then you have sneaked in from the side.:-) To me I dont think composition really changes the mood portrayed in the character, its just a different camera angle of it. I think hes thinking about child-hood memories.

comment by Robert #2 at 11:20 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

I see a retired roadie-- he toured with some big names, saw some of the greatest shows , partied with the bands, and even had his share of the groupies, but now the last tour is over, and he's not quite sure what to do next. He still has the long hair though; he's still rockin' at home.

comment by drdubosc at 11:28 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

This is close-up to the point of intrusion, but the subject's averted gaze leaves me without intimacy. I'm made to feel as if I'm somewhat agressive, merely by having invaded this man's personal space in a public place. By looking out of the frame, he contemplates either nothing (external), or something I can't share. In conclusion, I'm left feeling empty. Maybe what you intend?

comment by Jamey at 11:43 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Well he's looking to the right. And we in the west have an alaphabet that read left to right. So the right is in the future and the left is in the past. So I think he's looking to the future. If you flipped the image horizontally, he'd be looking to the past.

comment by Chris Clark at 11:49 PM (GMT) on 19 January, 2006

Nicely framed.

comment by dave carrington at 12:01 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

as ever, another fine pic. you have finally 'inspired' me to spend a small fortune on a dslr. i dislike the phrase 'learning curve', but i am now at the bottom of one! things can only get better. thought: you should try to tap canon for a commission fee!

comment by Abe Pachikara at 12:18 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Very clear and crisp. It looks like the focal plane is on the eye, no? Did this perrson know you were taking the shot? It looks as if this is on a bus - - which would probably give you the time to capture the image.

The crispness is what is so evident still, right down to the chin whiskers -- like you are right there with the person. How do you get such clarity: do you use any add on sharpeners to Photoshop; Photoshop on its own; did you do this all in C1 Pro?

comment by Jamie at 12:22 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Hmm. Not sure whether I like this or not. He's obviously very aware that he is being photographed and possibly a little uneasy. I don't like the lack of eye contact, especially since the shot is so close. I'd go with the other commenter who said it made her feel 'empty'. There isn't a whole lot of emotion here.

I do like his profile though and it's a nice black and white conversion.

comment by JD at 12:52 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Interesting thoughts. I've been trying my hand at portraiture recently. Its much more of an art/skill than I ever imagined.

I agree with the comments about the awquardness of this crop, and feel the framing to the right is a little distracting.
But then this is the whole point. If composed differently or even uncropped, I could have a totally different opinion of this image.
But I do feel there is something about it. : )

I uploaded a couple of portait recently with different crops and slightly different techniques applied to them.

I suppose if the end result is what you want to tell us then its right (a little corny I know but no other words really applied!)

comment by Mark at 12:54 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

I find it interesting that people feel this person is "beyond" his prime. I find this photograph compelling and don't believe that he knew he was being shot. As of late I too have been enamored with human shots that evoke emotion. The detail of this shot makes me a bit uneasy, as if I've invaded his personal space. I'd feel differently if it was a head shot of Angelina....

comment by noushin at 01:31 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

To me he looks so distant, must be in deep thinking.

comment by CurlyBoy at 03:00 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

He's in a covered bus stop, watching 2 young boys playing soccer (okay, football, since you're from England) out in the cold, and remembering wistfully when he was that young and innocnt.

As for why ... Covered bus stop -- the frame on the right makes me think of ones I've seen here in NYC. Cold -- the zipped up fleece jacket, with the greyscale adding to the effect. Wistfullness -- the very slight smile (at least, that's what it seems like to me) from the skin folds near his lips and the slight downturn of the eyes, and he's obviously staring at *something* out of view. He's not leering or outright grinning ... so it has to be something that's a good memory, but not something actually funny. From there, my mind dragged up that explanation.

comment by andrew at 05:17 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

You're definitely right. Each and every aspect of a photo influences what the reader sees in the picture. The second I saw this photo, I thought, simply, "a stranger" ... but the moment I read the title you gave it, it created a whole conversation you had with this man about how things have changed. I thought he was going on and on about how things used to be, and how they are now.

I gotta say, the story I read was more written by the title than by the (wonderful) picture. Had I not read the title seconds after viewing the image, this post, and the story I read, would be completely different.

comment by Navin Harish at 06:39 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Good details but somehow I feel that asquare format is not working too well. May be a little wider image with some more bg would have worked better.

comment by PlasticTV at 07:24 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

i rather like the subtle framing in this picture.

comment by Ash at 07:25 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

great detail...not sold on it though being a great story, portrait, etc.

comment by Ellie at 08:36 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Im not too big on this one, but i dont really like pictures of people anyway! but the framing is clever in its subtlety..

comment by chinna at 09:35 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

to me it says hope never dies . . .

comment by Still at 11:21 AM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

A strong human portrait. I'm relly sorry to speak a too poor englis to comment your shots more precisely...

comment by Jasmine at 01:09 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

I see a man in a moment of acceptance, openness and peace. Not about past or future, but simply right-now. It is a lovely portrait that I find quite captivating. I agree with Joan. Your portraits capture the dignity of the subject, whatever their circumstances. I think you see beyond the surface of the person, and that you choose to display some of what lies beneath.

comment by eclipse-space at 01:17 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006


comment by cristina at 01:25 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

So strong... I like it!


comment by Dan :: genestho.ca at 01:39 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Interesting discussion... The story I read through my lenses is that this person is working and on task. Seems to potentially be in a vehicule, going somewhere. It's not really a nice day but work still has to happen... Dunno. I find your relfection interesting and I echo some of your feelings. I find when photographing people in particular, I have a harder time distancing myself from the actually moment, the experience of taking the shot. I have the story in context, whereas my visitors only have the frozen frame, the snapshot of time standing still. So, their story often differs from the truth of the moment. Interesting. I look forward to hearing about the context and reality of this image. But then again, what is real...

comment by Jamie at 02:18 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Perhaps more can be read into this photo. I'm still not sure about it though. :)

"I find this photograph compelling and don't believe that he knew he was being shot."

Well, the exif says that this was shot at 17mm. I'm pretty sure he knew ;-)

comment by Ron at 03:22 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Maybe he is watching his kids in the sea, he seems concentrated. Maybe he is daydreaming about past failures...

comment by Farm at 08:17 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

His eyes convey a certain longing, as though he were watching someone leaving...
Overall, the photograph is lacking in a certain emotional depth; I think it is because the shot is a profile. For some reason I think I would feel differently if you could see more of his face. Or maybe I'm just imagining it.

comment by Kevin H. Stecyk at 08:45 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Okay David, time's up. Are you going to tell us more about your mystery guest?

Me, I love this shot. Though I am a few years, and only a few years younger, I can see myself in this photo. I see a sense of optimism, hope, life experiences, a streak of independence, a curiosity, and a sense of humor.

The optimism comes from the clear focused eyes looking at the future. Hope is the clear focus plus looking straight forward, meeting challenges dead on. Life experiences is shown by the slightly weathered face. It has character. I like it. Sense of independence is his haircut. He forges his own path. A curiousity comes from the combination of his previous attributes. Optimistic, hopeful, and independent people are curious people. And something about the photo says that he has a sense of humor.

That is what I see in the portrait.

I like the cropping, and I like the background. Overall, exceptionally well done. I like it very much.

comment by djn1 at 08:50 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

Thanks everyone.

As for this guy's story ...

We only talked for a while, but he was down on his luck and asking for money outside this shop window. I guess he may well have been homeless, but I didn't ask. As a lot of you have mentioned though, he didn't seem as though he lacked hope or optimism. And I guess that was what my title was about, 'things have changed', because I got the impression that although his life must have been different at some point in the not too distant past, his current circumstances didn't seem to trouble him, at least not noticeably.

comment by tobias at 08:51 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

The composition says little more to me. I just look at that character depicted. His face on the other hand reflects a hard life, hard lived. Were you selective DoFing then perhaps that would change things but this is a pretty straight.

comment by Carter at 08:55 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

i like this allot

comment by Kevin H. Stecyk at 09:15 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

David, thank you for photographing him exceptionally well. I hope he has an opportunity to view his photo and the comments.

I am sorry to learn of his circumstances. I hope they change for him.

comment by Gina at 10:00 PM (GMT) on 20 January, 2006

hm I'm not sure what this picture is supposed to do. It's a bit plain. The thing that stands out in this photo is the subject's ear. It's hard to form a connection with the eyes as this is a sideview. Maybe if we saw a bit more of the eyes, it would be better. I don't like how the head is cut off a bit. You have much better portraits than this one.