The human head may be the most complex cubic foot in the universe.
At least, as interpreted by another human being.
Interpreting the complexity of the human face claims an entire portion of our brains. In addition, what's inside the head, the fine workings of the brain, is so complex that we have no way to understand it. We are our brain but we cannot know it.
Most of us concern ourselves deeply about our appearance. The face is how we communicate to the world before words ever exit our mouths. We protect our face, paint it, and record it.
This blog is about photographing the human face, interpreting the people around us and rendering them in two dimensions. It will take three approaches:
- Aesthetics: The featured image; the photograph.
- Narrative: A story, tale, or reminiscence about the featured individual. Whether I, the photographer, have a deep history with the subject or not, you will learn a thing or two about the depth of that person.
- Photographic technique: The inclusion of technical information. Sometimes this will be as simple as the camera and lens used, but often we will get deeper into how to light a person, how to work with different facial features, etc.
Surely There is a More Complex Cube Out There Somewhere
I could show you a cubic foot from 10 different forest floors. If you are an interested botanist or naturalist, you may deeply appreciate the subtle differences between those cubes, but most of us will not instantly recognize the diversity there.
I could show you a square from 10 different visible sections of the night sky. If you are a student of the stars, you may love this study, but most of us will at first see only specks of light.
I could even show you a cubic foot containing the heads of 10 different horses, or perhaps dogs. You will recognize them all as different, but will soon forget the nuances and details of each one.
But If I present to you 10 cubes, each containing the image of a person, a unique section of your brain will engage those images immediately. You will see people, not just things. You will often see personalities, though you may never have met the people that you are viewing.
About the Author
Trav Williams is a portrait and event photographer, living in a damp corner of the United States. He records people and faces, through professional headshots, environmental portraiture, dramatic imagery, and street photography.
He believes deeply in the internal and external diversity of the human population; it is not always evident when we classify people by skin tone or ethnicity. There is more depth in the eyes and minds of individuals than most of us give credit to.
This blog is an attempt to offer a sincere meditation and interpretation on individual portraits, including thoughts on how to capture images in a way that reflects the lives of the subjects in the images.