PORTRAIT | Specialist Study


Produce a mini portfolio and capture the spirit of a person within a controlled lighting situation and a location that they feel most comfortable in. Produce 4 images for each .


I have chosen PORTRAIT because it is very relevant to the work I currently do and is something I’m very passionate about. The idea of being able to capture someone’s personality, a side of them, an emotion… or even several emotions in a single photograph fascinates me. I plan to edit the images in black & white because in my opinion the best portraits are because colour can sometimes distract you from the subject.


Portraiture is something that dates back to the Egyptian times, in those days portraits were mainly paintings and sculptures and it was the only way to record the physical existence of people.


In nearly all the work from that period, each individual has a very similar expression. They appear in their idealistic form, free from sin with solemn faces showing harmony & equilibrium. And this was because the sculptor had to conform and follow this fictional portrayal and create idealistic statues that revealed the admirable qualities of how the deceased were to be remembered.

Drawn, painted and sculpted portraits have had great importance through the ages and were often ways for people, especially in Monarchy to show their taste, wealth, power etc. And these would be sometimes be very fairly accurate in physical appearance as far historical research shows.



To the very extreme artists impressions:

Weeping Woman 1937 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

Weeping Woman 1937. Picasso


Below is the work of Yousef Karsh, his iconic Black & White portraits of the leading men & women of the 20th century really capture the essence of that person as we know them. He appears to use very low-key lighting in almost all of them, which is like a spotlight and really draws your eyes into the subject.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 16.52.52


The subject for my Portrait Project will be my sister. We have had photo shoots in the past together or with the children but nothing as an individual so this was a great opportunity for both of us.


Equipment – NIKON D750 / TAMRON 24-70 2.8 / 300W Strobes / White & Black Vinyl Backdrop & Stand

To create the controlled lighting portraits we set up a home studio and I chose to use Low key lighting like Yousef Karsh and High Key lighting so that i could experiment to see what worked the best.

For the low key lighting i used a black backdrop and a 300W Strobe with rectangular softbox off the left (and then i swapped it over to the right) pointing diagonally towards her as the key light and then another 300W strobe on the opposite side at the back as a hair light to separate her dark hair from the background.


A video that i watched a while ago on Low Key Lighting which was really good is from Gavin Hoey ( Who i met at the Photography Show this year … and picked his brains about lighting and backdrops! )

And for the High Key Lighting i set up the white backdrop, 2 300W strobes with rectangular softboxes at each side pointing diagonally towards the middle of the backdrop and had these on full power so the backdrop was completely white when they fired. I also had a third 300W strobe as the key light which was directly behind me when i was shooting face on.


Another great video from Gavin Hoey explaining High Key Lighting:

These 2 set ups each created a very different look, with the black background and one light it was very moody …and Caroline also adapted the same demeanor, the lighting made her feel shy almost and out of all the images with this set up she was very much in a sultry pose until I made her giggle. Whereas with the high key lighting she seemed to be more relaxed, whether that was because she was getting used to be photographed or perhaps that it was less like she was under the spotlight of one light.

Final 4 Images – Controlled Lighting





Equipment – Nikon D750 / Sigma 50mm 1.4

For the location shoot Caroline chose Hope Mountain, it is somewhere she loves to go for a walk and it’s got such a beautiful horizon backdrop which was perfect for the type of images we wanted to create. I waited until 5pm to shoot because I wanted to have backlit images which creates soft hazy backgrounds as the sun spills through all the grass and foliage. This shoot was much better than in the studio, she was so much more relaxed and this really shows in the images. Plus we were able to walk around and find different spots to shoot which meant we had more variation in the collection.

For some reason i took a huge camera bag with lots of lenses and as always i didn’t even use them! I must learn to travel lighter….. walking up a mountain with them all was tiring before we’d even started the shoot.




What I learnt from this assignment was that it is very difficult to capture someones personality in a controlled lighting situation, it seems to put them under more pressure being restricted and faced with lighting. It took a lot longer for me to get her to relax and be herself in comparison to the location shoot in a place that she loves and this really shows in those images. Next time i shoot a studio portrait i will make sure that i have plenty time with the client before hand to chat and get to know them so that they eel relaxed before they stand in front of the camera.

This project has helped me look at how I approach my portrait work for the future and I feel that i have achieved all the learning outcomes for this assignment by:

  • Researching & planning lighting
  • Working through problems & finding solutions
  • Using the correct media & techniques
  • Working to a brief
  • Evaluating the process along the way, learning and making notes of how I could have improved.




Haze – Colour Flow | Production Process


I have never had experience with this type of film before so to develop my personal research i began my search for Non Narrative shorts films on Google which lead me to Youtube, some i have listed below that are all quite different to each other in regards to content:

Non-Narrative film – Gareth Roberts

Exit 12 – Short Film

Danger Mouth – Short Non Narrative Film

Presage — A Non-narrative Film

Mortality – Non-Narrative Short Film

Creative Media Directions – Non-Narrative Film

Also films from:


Karen Heald

“painterly, poetic, non-linear video narratives created by myself and fellow collaborators. The films showcased are experimental, minimal and complex. The body of work intertwines video, performance and installation. They are films that respond to the history or culture of a specific location or concept”

Karen Heald  (2015). Available: http://www.karenheald.co.uk/films. Last accessed 29th March 2017.

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After exploring lots of these films my understanding was that they are:

random / weird / calming / scary / meaningless / meaningful / emotional / annoying / dreamlike / distorted / frustrating / intriguing / simple

I was filled with quite confusing emotions throughout so first I looked into what describes a Narrative Film –

  • Storyline
  • Cast
  • Soundtrack
  • Scripted Dialogue
  • Acting
  • Costumes
  • Motive

So a non narrative film is a method of storytelling but without any of the above. They have a poetic & dreamlike quality, containing things that we consider mundane captured in a non controlling way.

Gloria Janet. (2015). narrative vs non narrative. Available: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/gloria-tanuseputra/2015/05/02/243/. Last accessed 29th March 2017.

narrative / non narrative. Available: http://www.centerforhomemovies.org/narrative-vs-non-narrative/. Last accessed 29th March 2017.

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Exploring Ideas For a Non Narrative Film

Digital Textures

  • industrial scenes
  • sun moving across buildings
  • cars on a busy road / motorway– slowed down / sped up
  • City Lights changing

Colour Flow

  • Movement of water
  • Oil dripping down something / use coloured lights to change the colour of the oil
  • Food colouring dripped into water
  • Film the Sky – clouds moving across blue sky
  • Out of focus – moving in and out of focus on colourful objects

Move Me

  • Nature shots
  • Time Lapse / Flower at different times of the day
  • Melting Ice Cube or Ice cream / outside / different locations
  • Leaf, blowing around

Sound Bites

  • Film things around the house, edit in time to music
  • Kettle Boiling
  • Tap running / Dripping Tap
  • Clock ticking
  • Close up shots (macro) of household objects

For the Non Narrative film that I have chosen to make I have taken my inspiration from 2 of the videos that i watched:


Connor O’Brien – Creative Media Directions – Non-Narrative Film, I liked the idea of having relaxing music with foliage.

interior interior

And Karen Heald & Alana Tyson. (2015). Interior Interior. Available: http://www.karenheald.co.uk/films. Last accessed 29th March 2017. I loved how calming and relaxing it made me feel…watching something so simple as moving fabric, it was hypnotising and made me want to watch more. But not to find out what was going to happen, it was satisfying in a detachment way, i didn’t feel the need to look for meaning in it, i could just watch it … similar to how i felt when i watched other Non Narrative films. 

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How do I choose what to film…surely ‘choosing’ to film ‘something’ makes that the subject of my film and therefore a narrative ?

I did come across an in-depth breakdown from Dartmouth.edu website that the non-narrative characteristics consist of these 4 main categories :

Categorical / Rhetorical / Abstract / Associational

Non-Narrative as a formal system. Available: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~film01/nonnarrative.html.  Last accessed 4th April 2017.

The whole concept totally baffled me and the only way for me to get past that was to go out with my camera and film…. all I knew was that I wanted to do something for the Colour Flow with ambient music & nature.


Nikon 750 & Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art Lens

I filmed everything that was already there, untouched, unplanned and in its most natural state in and around my house outside.

After filming lots of childrens feet bouncing on a trampoline, clouds, plants & leaves I decided to concentrate on an area that isn’t of any interest….just the green weeds & grass around my garden, using a shallow depth of field moving in and out of focus slowly. And the sun was quite low in the sky by this point and this is my favourite light.

With everything that I have filmed in the past (Narrative based) my main priority has always been to make sure I get my focus spot on, but for this I decided to do the opposite and have some blurry areas because there is less importance for that accuracy. And naturally flowing in and out of focus would adapt itself to a dreamy look. The footage has to be put together with Ambient music over the top so I did my best to move as slowly as I could holding my breath most of the time, I aimed to get a fairly smooth fluid camera pan like in Karen Healds’ Interior Interior but it turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.

There was a mixture of footage, hand-held panning & camera sat on the ground / shoe / scarf. I could of used the glidecam to stabilise my camera or stabilise it in post production but i chose not to, i wanted the footage to have a slight natural movement to it so that it was raw & natural which suited the subject. I filmed different areas of my garden, concentrating on the mundane weed and anything that was green because that was the colour i had chosen for the brief – Colour Flow.

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Using After Effects I put all my footage together, I do find it very time consuming because with every playback it has to render the section which really quadruples the editing time. I think for what I needed to do I should of used Premier Pro to save some time. Nothing fancy went into the edit, there is no colour correction, no fades, nothing done to any of the clips, all I did was slow them down by 200%. Again, i wanted to keep it as simple & natural as possible.

The ambient music was a track I found on Youtube:

Arnav Srivastav. (2013). Royalty Free Background Music – “Roads To Oblivion” (Background Music for Films). Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dufE2Ravrrw&list=PLUxc0pGFdGiGzK64w3-UJn0dlU8rzuFmc. Last accessed 29th March 2017.


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I set out to create a non narrative film with a very hazy idea of what i was actually doing and after spending a while i managed to remove myself from planning every little aspect that goes into a project and began to think in a less constructing way. This was one of the main issues that i had to deal with, getting into the mindset of filming in a non-narrative way,  almost without purpose but not completely.

I’m still not sure that any film can be classed as 100% non-narrative because the creator has chosen what to film & the content the want to include. Or is it the viewers interpretation of what they are watching that becomes the narrative? But nevertheless it opens up an unsolved subject which can only lead to exciting experimentation by all creators.

I feel like i have extended my learning by experimenting with something i have never done before and it has made me look at film in a different light. There is more depth to a film when you explore it from a different perspective. I am really pleased with my first attempt at this type of film and it has left me slightly addicted so i will definitely be making more.

This project has helped me look at how I approach film for the future and I feel that i have achieved all the learning outcomes for this assignment by:

  • Researching & planning
  • Working through problems & finding solutions
  • Using the correct media & techniques
  • Working to a brief
  • Evaluating the process along the way, learning and making notes of how I could have improved.



For this assignment I have to create a layout for a publication in a magazine or journal about a subject that is visually stimulating and of personal interest.


I have chosen to do the magazine spread about a project that I am currently working on with Emilienne Rebel for her company. She makes beanies for hair loss and chemotherapy and this is something very close to my heart because my Mum went through it and is amazingly still with us today. Emilienne had not long given birth to her daughter when she found out she had Grade 3 advanced breast cancer, and she was only 31. And so her journey through chemotherapy & operations began and it was during this time that she was inspired to design some comfortable headwear. When she lost her hair the scarfs she wore would always slip and the woollen hats were itchy and hot and the wigs were uncomfortable and from this Bold Beanies was born.

Like her health her company has gone from strength to strength and has a huge line of beanies for adults. She has also recently introduced a childrens range with matching teddy hats and came to me because she wanted to re-build her website and make it fresh and have all new images of every product.

It was unlike any job that i had done before, there is hundreds of different hats and each one had to be photographed in several ways:

The children’s range was very important to Emily because she wanted to display them in a fun way…. there is nothing good about cancer but what gets people through it is staying happy and positive so she wanted that to be a factor. She brought lots of props to the studio and i photographed our children wearing the hats, we got so many great photos and she was over the moon with the result.



  • Lighting & backdrop
  • Consistency in shots / angles
  • Props
  • Time
  • Image storage

Emilienne wanted a white backdrop to keep a consistency through all the images but one issue that i didn’t take into consideration was the temperature. We mainly use natural window light in the studio and even though it had been a sunny day, the light had changed throughout the shoot. So when i uploaded the images to my computer they are all varying slightly in colour temp……an issue that i wouldn’t have had if we had used studio lighting only. At the time Emilienne had said it wasn’t necessary and as long as they were in front of a white backdrop it would suffice. Only to find out at a later date when she was uploading the product pics to her google shop that they were being refused because they background wasn’t white enough. It’s something that i can rectify in Photoshop but considering how many images there is it’s a lengthy process. So that was the biggest lesson learnt and for any future product photography i will be using studio light only.

There was hundreds of hats to photograph so when it came to the children we knew that we had to work fast because they would soon get bored, the good thing was the props and that seemed to keep the momentum going because they enjoyed getting into character.

It took several days to photograph the full range and i had several thousands of images, all between 26-30MB so i used a lot of SD cards and had to make sure that everything was backed up twice at the end of each day.


I began my research on google for design tips, and out of many similar articles i found this website https://designschool.canva.com/blog/design-rules/ which states some rules that you shouldn’t break.

  • Keep even spacing in between text characters & words.
  • Make sure text is bold and easy to read, don’t use faded colours.
  • Don’t overuse capital letters, it comes across as shouting.
  • Keep line lengths short, 6 words per line is the golden number.
  • Use colour & type to define hierarchy – make the important points stand out.
  • Always use a grid – makes sure all the components on your page are lined up evenly.
  • Design for your audience, use appropriate text, colours, icons.
  • Try not to have ‘widows & orphans’ parts of a sentence or a single word on a separate line.
  • Consider colour palettes, which colours compliment each other and colour theory, how different colours affect people – orange is said to stimulate appetite.
  • Don’t use more than 2-3 fonts
  • Don’t use display fonts (handwriting) for the main body of text, it is hard to read.
  • Never stretch your type, it distorts it. Try and find one that suits your needs without having to stretch it.
  • Avoid colour discord – 2 colours that are widely separated on the colour wheel. When paired together they can look muddy.
  • Don’t think of white space as empty space, a minimalistic approach helps put more focus on a specific area and allows the design to breathe
  • Don’t follow design trends, keep yours original.
  • Use the right tools, high res images.
  • Make sure the layout is correct for the final publication.
  • Correct grammar
  • Don’t use too many effects, keep the design simple.

Most of these are common sense but they were a good reminder of what to consider.

I also got lots of layout inspiration from magazines and places like Google, Pinterest, Creative Market, some of which I have below:

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 11.50.27



I saved these one’s in particular because I like different elements in each of them especially the minimalistic leaf, your eye is drawn straight to that and i think that’s a really important part of any publication.

The layout was really time-consuming, I spent hours playing with the arrangement, fonts and colours and trying the text in different ways. Minimal and vibrant was the look i wanted to achieve, i didn’t want it cluttered because there is so many colours in the Beanies.

There was so many images to choose from for this and that was the difficult part, I was really drawn to the ones of them when they were wearing masks and hats over the beanies because the kids look like they are having so much fun in these ones and they make you smile. I didn’t end up using those ones though because I thought that the focus needs to be on the Beanie itself and nothing else.


Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 11.39.17Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.49.34

I seemed to get stuck with it here and this was where I was going to leave it:

Magazine spread final sml


But I still wasn’t happy about it and couldn’t figure out what wasn’t right so i revisited it the following day with fresh eyes and changed it to this:

Magazine spread FINAL EDIT


Which I am much happier with, it just seems to work better and i originally wanted to include the image of the mum putting the hat on but it didn’t fit anywhere in my previous layout.

I found a magazine Mockup template on Graphicsfuel which i used to see how it would look if it was in a magazine http://www.graphicsfuel.com/2016/04/magazine-mockup-psd-template/ I applied my image to their template in Photoshop by using the WARP tool to pull out the top and bottom of the pages to create a 3D effect.



The layout i have created reflects my idea for a fun, clean, fresh, bright, minimal publication to advertise the new range of Bold Beanies for children. From the initial idea of planning how to photograph the Beanies with Emilienne & the idea to advertise the childrens range in a fun way all the way through to the final images i feel that i have achieved all the learning outcomes for this assignment by:

  • Researching & planning
  • Developing ideas & decision-making
  • Working through problems & finding solutions
  • Using the correct media & techniques
  • Producing work for a client, meeting the brief and deadlines
  • Evaluating the process along the way, learning and making notes of how I could have improved.