Representation and Portrayal of a Subject. by Nick McGrath

I’m always curious about how we select images when it comes to portraits of people we photograph. Here I have selected four out of eight images from a very quick little street portrait session. Each one has its own elements and feelings on its own, slight differences have occurred between the press of the shutter. In context of the person, he is sitting on the side of the footpath having a break in between work. You can see that in the first image, he’s a little surprised and looks slightly defensive. Outside of the frame, his work colleagues start to laugh at the scene developing between the photographer and the subject. In the second picture the man has crossed his arms, third picture he starts to smile a little but still a little embarrassed at the attention he is getting. The last picture he puts his head down. The whole scenario lasted less than ten seconds and then it was finished.

Each image is worthy in its own outright and speaks its own words. Yet I often think about the dilemmas in representation and portrayal of the people we photograph. Why do we choose a particular image over the other.

In the end, I decided to choose the image of the man with his head down. I loved the shape of the hat and how it tends to hang over his shoulders with a slight presence of his chin at the bottom. Also, it hides his identity, not that I needed to in this case, but it tends to offer more questions than answers about who the person is and moves away from a typical portrait setting. It is worth noting that, when photographing people in either high risk or vulnerable situations, portrayal and identity is very important and much consideration is needed when making work public

Which one do you prefer ?

Labourer on work break. Chinatown, Bangkok. 2018 ©Nick McGrath

Labourer on work break. Chinatown, Bangkok. 2018 ©Nick McGrath