<<< o >>>portrait week #1 81 comments + add yours

I thought it was about time that I took some more portraits, especially of the kids, so I've decided that this week – Monday through Friday – will be a portrait week on chromasia. I don't have any other shots to put up yet, so it may well crash and burn by tomorrow evening, but all being well I'll put up another four portraits after this one.

And for those of you who haven't 'met' her before, this is Rhowan, who will be five in August. And my wife and I have had a slight difference of artistic opinion on this one. I really like it, whereas her comment was "she'll sue you when she's older" ;-)

So, over to you ...

Update: following some or the early comments I've toned down her eyes a little. What I'd done with the original is return her eyes to pretty much their actual colour. With this version I think their colour better suits the overall toning of the image.

focal length
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1.46pm on 9/4/06
Canon 20D
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
40mm (64mm equiv.)
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C1 Pro
1x1 + children [portraits]
comment by zack at 07:27 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

just wonderful! Good idea on taking more portraits this week. cant wait to see more.

comment by Peter at 07:38 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I agree with your wife...it's very unfavourable...but people should, in my opinion, look favourably on potrait shots!

comment by Gavin at 07:39 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

She may well sue you, but I think it's fantastic. The lack of colour, apart from the eyes is perfect. Looking forward to the rest.

comment by MikesRightBrain at 07:44 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006


There's a wonderful sparkle in Rhowan's eyes, but the expression on her face is not pleasant (it's unfavorable, if that's a better word). Also, in my opinion the colored eyes / greyscale everything else angle is a bit overdone these days. However, if the shot pleases you, that is what matters. But I would advise that you get yourself a lawyer in a few years.

comment by Kyle A.M. at 07:45 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Not to be overly harsh, but my first impression was the faint sound of "My precioussss".

Keep a lawyer on retainer, just in case.

comment by Ella at 07:55 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Her expression might not very favourable, but in my opinion a portrait doesn't have to be and the form of the lips is fantastic. I'd have processed the eyes differently though, because they stand out a little bit too much. If I was Rhowan, I wouldn't sue you later on, but I'd probably wonder about my hairstyle then ;-).

comment by Keith at 07:55 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

What does Rhowan think? I like it in terms of a uncheesy portrait, and I have lots pics of my children in less than flatering expression. It looks like she looks at you a lot like that when you point a camera at her. You should Still plan to emigrate or go into hiding though.

comment by thukai at 08:03 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I love how you've made the eyes stand out with sharper colouring. I have problems focusing on the rest of the picture. Looking forward to the rest of your portraits.

comment by DavidG at 08:10 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

At first, what Kyle A.M. said ... but on a closer look, I think the expression is fabulous. I'm not convinced that it's an "unfavourable" expression, but in a photo sometimes it's hard to be sure. A twitch could change everything. I suspect Rhowan thinks you're crazy!

I also suspect this would be an extraordinarily individual straight portrait, but I'm not the one deciding what aspects of the image to emphasise here ...

comment by Manolo at 08:20 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Very nice portrait. Estas reflejado en los ojos. Muy bonito

comment by Fuzzy at 08:22 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Wow... she look a little creepy for me. Some kind of monochromatic post-processing and this would be goth-art.

comment by Joerg at 08:24 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I'm scared! ;)

Nice portrait

comment by nuno f at 08:28 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

She might not sue you... or maybe she wil. :-)

This is without a doubt a beautiful portrait. The tonality of the eyes is amazing and creates a perfect connection to her personality. Good crop choice.

comment by joe_ob at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Get yourself a lawyer.

comment by JD at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I don't think its scarie but there is definitally some edge to it ;)

wish I got here earlier to see the original :(

the toning is great

Good luck with the theme :) look forward to seeing more

comment by djn1 at 08:56 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

JD: there isn't much difference with this version, just that her eyes are a little less blue. And for those of you wondering about her expression: she's trying not to smile :-)

comment by sniper at 09:06 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

as always :) nice eyes she has

comment by kevin at 09:07 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

are you glad to hear everyone is concerned about you david? My only.. well, one of my problems with the shot, is that I can't determine an emotion. At first the eyes lead me to anger, then the lips look forced, and it's almost laughter, but there's something about the nose. I don't know, it's definately post worthy-- even if it only sparks critical remarks.

comment by Hennie at 09:07 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

My first thought was the she looks rather impish - and seeing that she was trying not to smile explains that. The thumbnail gives a better impression of the whole than the larger version. I really like it.

comment by John at 09:07 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

wooohooo finally david.....ive been waiting for a pic of your kids for a long time....and this ones pretty scary looking....thanks for posting one up!

comment by meunier cedric at 09:12 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

je parle pas anglais ! sorry !! mais j'adore vos photos et je viens voir tout les jours votre site!!

salut , Cédric (belgium)

comment by Benjamin Riley at 09:37 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I like the "feel" of this shot, its definatley not your cut-and-dry boring portrait. I do loke the toning and the color in her eyes. very nice!
However something about the shot is missing, maybe getting in so close with the wide angle lens puts too much distortion on the nose and eyes and narrows the chin and mouth too much (maybe it's just because she's trying not to smile). I think stepping back and using a longer lens would have worked a little better.....Looking forward to the rest of the week's portraits.

comment by Fellow Eskimo at 09:43 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Not exactly your typical 5 year old portrait. Interesting effect on the eyes.

comment by Sharla at 09:52 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Seeing Rhowan againg brings a smile to my face!

Only the lack of a smile keeps this from being a lovely portrait. As it is, it a wonderful portrait for the emotion she is trying to show. [My first guess: Not again!]

I like the tight frame and the coloring is interesting; it enhances the mood of the shot.

But I suggest you start spending your money now because she'll want to sue someday. Good news: this shot doesn't cost as much as the bare-bottom, bearskin shots do!

comment by micki at 10:01 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

You're off to a great start--lovely!

She'll sue you as a teen, and by the time she makes you a grandfather, she'll love it!

comment by m at 10:11 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Yep she'll sue you.
Nice eyes, shame you've made her look like the the hulk from the original series with Lou Ferinio. You're a cruel man.

comment by Jennifer at 10:15 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

My first hought....... scary!

comment by flying cow at 10:24 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

brilliant selective desaturation. her expression is so naughty!
tell me something, david, did you learn photography and how to use photoshop on your own or did you take some sort of a course?

comment by Justin Gaynor at 10:41 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Beautiful portrait, your portraits are always so clear and emotive.

comment by AG at 10:47 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Quite terrifying but unmissable. Eagerly looking forward to the rest of the week !

comment by komma5 at 10:50 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

wow, what a shot!
incredible gaze!!

comment by RyanT at 10:51 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Well, it is an interesting expression for sure. I'm not one that thinks all portraits should portray the person's best so I think this works except for the colored eyes and desaturating everything else. It's just worn out.

comment by Jem at 10:55 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

My god! What did you do to that gorgeous little girls hair with that big bouffon fringe?! And I thought you had taste Dave :P Poor Rho ;)

That on the side - I adore this shot. The colours and the intensity you've brought out in her eyes. Gorgeous :)

comment by Robert at 10:57 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Has the wonderful feel of an illustration. Great shading highlights the curve of her face.

comment by chiara at 11:24 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I like the sparkle in her eyes but I'm not sure if I like the tone of the image. Look forward to seeing more...

comment by Luisa at 11:24 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

Yes, I am afraid you should begin to look for a lawyer.

comment by ps at 11:36 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

one for every day of the week (including you and your wife) :D

comment by djn1 at 11:44 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

flying cow: I'm self-taught.

Jem: she went to a friend's birthday party at the weekend and wanted her hair crimped. Personally, I don't think it suits her ;-)

Luisa: according to yell.com there are 77 lawyers in Blackpool, so I should have quite a few to choose from ;-)

comment by david at 11:50 PM (GMT) on 10 April, 2006

I'm sorry, but I agree with your wife.
I am, however, looking forward to the rest of the portraits you will be taking and posting this week.

comment by mohammed at 12:33 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

The eyes are a little scary! :)

comment by Alexis at 12:54 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I love it!
The facial expression is contagious.

comment by matt at 01:04 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

your daughter scares me :)

comment by Zeppo at 01:25 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

What a great pic .... assuming that she's heading to a casting call for an evil extra on the next Harry Potter movie..... ;)

I like it actually. Took a moment to try and figure out the mood from the expression - but it was worth the work :)

comment by Michael Sarver at 02:06 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

This is a lovely shot! The toning, the expression... well done!

comment by Josh at 02:44 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I'm with your wife...

She is a bit frightening : ) I guess I just know them as little angels from previous pics.

I'm looking forward to the pic a week idea, though! Cheers!

comment by Carrie at 03:06 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I don't really comment much, but had to on this one. Maybe it's just my monitor (and a friend's), but her skin tone looks purplish, which in turn makes her look a little sickly. I agree with your wife on this one!

comment by sam at 03:17 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I see her expression as every-so-slightly on the verge of a smile. I think this is open to individual interpretation, which makes it interesting.

comment by doreen at 03:25 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

i agree with your wife ;)

comment by John at 03:28 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I love this portrait, but I know why she might sue you. To me, a speck of color left in a monochrome just never works, It always seems gimmicky. I suspect you feel this too, evidenced by your attempt to soften the contradiction by desaturating her eyes. Alas, she still looks creepy, like a child from "Village of the Damned." If her eyes were consistent with the rest of the picture, it would be a wonderful facial expression, full of a spirit of defiance mixed with mirth, a child mischievously giving papa a hard time. You better make your atonement soon. She looks determined to have her own way.

comment by Seadreamer at 07:22 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Don't listen to the people telling you to get a lawyer. After looking at it for only a moment, I could tell that she was trying not to smile. But then, I'm the mother of a six year old. This is beautiful and a wonderful way to remember her at this age.

comment by peter at 07:51 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I've never really seen the idea in mixing black and white with a splash of colour, so in this respect this picture doesn't quite do it for me. Perhaps she will sue. Perhaps she will not. But if I've learned anything from shooting my own kids, it is that sometimes you have to take what they give you when you point a camera at them. I see a cheeky look in those eyes (I'm NOT going to smile) that makes the picture fun to look at.

comment by John Washington at 08:08 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I think she will love it when she is older. Great photo Dave.

comment by Mark at 08:25 AM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I think it's great and you've captured Rhowan beautifully Dave. I don't get the whole 'the expression isn't favourable' line, a very narrow view on things if you ask me. As for being 'creepy'...well good God, I've heard it all now - I really don't see that at all. Just a wonderfully playful expression from a cute 5 year old. Nice work :-)

comment by Alex at 12:09 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

No offence, but I think it's a horrible picture...

The de-saturation and colour preservation on the eyes look so unoriginal and out of place- as though it's just the standard 'oh, I have a portrait, what do i do with it in photoshop?' option.

I think it would have been much better to have a nice picture to start with, and then process it by visualising ways of tweaking it and seeing where the picture itself takes it, being led by what looks good. This simply looks like a poor picture with an attempt at a processing remedy- and un-innovative and un-natural processing at that.

Sorry, I'm with the wife!

comment by john at 12:20 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

how evil does she look

comment by ryran at 01:09 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Sheesh. Reading all these comments, I really wonder how much feedback you're looking for in the realm of artistic choice. I know I certainly wouldn't want to hear all this "I think it would've been better if" stuff; you captured a photo and you processed it the way you processed it. Now it's a picture. You already made the choices. There it is. *shrugs*

Anyway, I enjoyed it, and definitely found myself agreeing with sentiments simillar to those expressed by people such as Mark a few comments above.

comment by Mikelangelo at 02:47 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I really like this image. The eyes are intense. I love the expression. Unflattering or not. It makes me think of the 80s Hulk TV show. The eyes have a greenish tint on my monitor it looks like she's about about to turn into the Hulk! (Watever you do...don't make her angry...you wouldn't like when she's angry.)

...'course...it's kinda' funny that she's trying to smile. ;-)

comment by javga at 03:04 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

well, I like this one, because it's something completly different. And hey, I bet she's not always that angry... Maybe we will also see her 'sunnyside' later on this week!

comment by Matthew Campagna at 04:14 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Composition-wise, nice shot. Too photoshopped for my liking, though.

comment by Neil at 04:54 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I'm struggling with this one. I don't think it's a good portrait on any level - either in terms of subject, or in terms of technique. My first thought was 'bloody hell, it's gollum' -- something that I see is reflected a few other times in these comments. I can't think why you'd post it. I guess your ideas on portrait photogrpahy are a little different from mine. Shame, since I like so much of your other work.

comment by Kate at 05:27 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Hi Dave,

well there aren't many on the fence reactions with this shot!

I agree it's not a flattering shot. But why should it be? You're not a fashion photographer. You've captured a moment with your small daughter and while it may not portray the usual angelic beauty of your children its certainly full of character!

I remember some time ago you posted a portrait of one of your daughters crying and there was some debate over whether you should have done so - one of the posters (a mother) said as a parent she wants to have photos of her kids in all their different moods, I think this could apply here.

I wouldn't worry about being sued. By the time she gets old enough to do so she will appreciate the record of her childhood. Just don't let any of them do what I did. As a teenager I refused to let my parents take photos of me and now there's a period of about 4 years where I don't appear in any of the family albums - something I regret now!!


comment by Mark at 06:10 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Good comment Kate.

comment by Bertie at 06:15 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Hi Dave.

Reminds me of the Hulk, She going to kick your butt at 15 ... Personally, I love it!


comment by Stian at 07:21 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I love it. The way the eyes stands out is brilliant. Two thumbs up, Dave! Looking forward to your next picture!

comment by Sil at 08:33 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Well well.. seems you gor reactions from the lurkers on this one!

She looks like she either put a sour candy in her mouth or she is trying not to laugh or both at once.

And, being a girl myself, I don't think she will sue you, but rather treasure the image as a funny moment when she grows older. Presuming, however, you manage to raise her to self insight and humour. And I somehow do not doubt that this is an issue with your family, based on your portrayals of them.

comment by Andres at 08:43 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006


comment by djn1 at 08:57 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

Love it or hate it then ;-)

comment by Robster at 09:47 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

It's like the transition between Dr David Banner and the Hulk, neither one or the other. Your daughter deserves way better than this and you're capable of so much better too. Hats off to you for being experimental though. Keep it up.

comment by laurence at 10:06 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

i absolutely love her facial expression on this one!

its easy to take a portrait with a nice smile..but u can't get something like this often!

definitely a keeper...she will love it when she grows up!

comment by eterisk at 10:10 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

A very different portrait and I like it very much, but the expression and eyes scare me a bit. Looking forward to this week series.

comment by Dave at 10:41 PM (GMT) on 11 April, 2006

I like it. You do good work. I wouldn't worry about the law suite.

comment by mooch at 07:29 PM (GMT) on 12 April, 2006

I'd use a hairdresser. That's their job. You really like posting hideous images of your children don't you. Uncomfortable.

comment by Gerry at 12:22 AM (GMT) on 13 April, 2006

Fun reading all the comments. I suppose that's success of a sort. My initial thought was not only that your wife was right but that the photograph suggests that Rhowan has powers such that suing you might be the nicest thing she could do :-). Looking again, behind the strange toning I see a darling little girl. Sort of like "Blue Man Group" (though I don't actually know what they are like behind their striking-but-no-less-odd tonality). More generally, I love your site. Thank you. As a nascent photographer I feel you set the bar pretty high.

comment by ratty at 02:52 AM (GMT) on 13 April, 2006

i love the 'i'm not going to smile' look. or maybe i just recognize it :)
but mostly i love her little freckles...

comment by Svante at 02:42 PM (GMT) on 13 April, 2006

Beatiful portrait! I like to see different expressions from the same child and you always capture them in an exceptional way. I think I would rather like to see it either as B&W or full color, though, but that's just me.

comment by garret at 06:20 PM (GMT) on 14 April, 2006

nice picutre ! , keep up the good job.

comment by Jeff at 12:45 AM (GMT) on 16 April, 2006

Those eyes really grab you, maybe she'll sue you maybe not. I have hundreds of shots of my niece and many are blackmail material for when she starts dating. Never pays to cross the Uncle!

comment by Riki Chen at 06:43 AM (GMT) on 16 April, 2006

Wow~! What a nice photo~ Finally I found a great photo blog worths viewed everyday!

comment by Caryn at 09:54 PM (GMT) on 17 April, 2006

I have to say, I find this picture a little scary. I think it's the combination of her expression and the barely-there colors.

comment by Katie at 07:39 PM (GMT) on 23 April, 2006

Why does a portrait have to make the subject look good? This is probably a truer expression of her personality than a standard portrait shot. The blue eyes seem a little overdone, there is enough feeling in her eyes without the dramatization.

comment by AngelC at 08:47 PM (GMT) on 10 May, 2006

Fantastic picture, great eyes.