Monthly Archives: June 2012

A portrait of the artist: Laurie Plant

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to shoot some portraits of the artist Laurie Plant at his home studio. Laurie paints and sculpts, splitting his time between his own work, commissions and teaching.

The brief was to capture Laurie with some of his newer work, giving the pieces a sense of scale and communicating something of his character. I wanted to go beyond the standard “artist smiling in front of painting” and capture a range of expressions that could be used in different contexts and that would evoke some curiosity and interest on the part of the viewer. I was also keen to capture at least some shots in his studio, an incredible place absolutely crammed full of work and where almost every surface has been used to develop ideas.

In the studio 1In the studio 2Portrait 1Behind the scenesPortrait 2Portrait 3

Artists, like most people, are very comfortable talking about their work but way out of their comfort zone once you point a camera at them. The main challenge for me was to relax Laurie and hence get the best out of him. Beyond that I knew I’d need to be subtle with the lighting in order to let the paintings speak for themselves.

I used a pretty simple one light set-up for most shots, keeping the lighting low key for the wider shots and adding just a little drama (and a nod to Rembrandt) for some of the head shots. I kept up conversation with Laurie the whole time, keeping his mind occupied and the shoot moving quickly so that he never got the chance to become self-concious. He’s a very funny guy with a great Prince Charles impression – we had a lot of fun!

Laurie was kind enough to send me some detailed feedback after the session, which I reprint below with his permission:

Looking forward to Ian’s visit, I wondered how a photo-portrait shoot could make such a difference to the way one appears as a performer, musician, writer, or in my case, a visual artist? How would we avoid my self-consciousness and how could Ian portray my art to best effect?

Ian immediately began planning ideas about how he wanted to portray me with the work, arranging canvases in my studio to organise the space, considering lighting effects and focal points and directing my position, viewpoint, stance, balance, posture and – most fun – asking questions to distract me and get a much more natural response. Responding to such requests was really engaging, capturing much truer expressions, moreover Ian’s quick witted directing and retorts had us in peels of laughter! It wasn’t just a case of which paintings I thought worked best, rather Ian attempted to show my working studio and how he perceived me amidst the work.

I think that the photographs are particularly successful when the expressions Ian has captured in the portraits say something about the attitude or feel of a particular painting, reinforcing or contrasting ideas, so there is a tacit dialogue between the ‘sitter’ and their work that engages the viewer. In this sense, some shots, for example (3139) (3274) (3247) have very surprising combinations of expression, focus, and composition that I would never dream would work and yet are very striking portraits to present to the world.

313932473274

Other shots, where I’m looking away from the camera and at the paintings: (3072) (2932) emphasise the work yet still give a dialogue. (3114) has an inquiring, critical expression that captures the way I look and think when painting portraits, yet places more emphasis on me than on my work.

IPH_120513_Laurie_2932.jpgIPH_120513_Laurie_3072.jpgIPH_120513_Laurie_3114.jpg

I thoroughly recommend the experience as much as the outcome of a day like this to anyone who is uncertain about the astounding difference a professional photographer can make.

Laurie PlantArtist – Painter – Sculptor – Teacher

Fresh new look

It’s been a little quiet here of late, but only because I’ve been working on a major update to the site. That update is now live (you’re looking at it!).

Things have changed a bit at the design level – I have a sparkly new logo and the overall look of the site is cleaner and a little more minimal. The pictures have changed on the front page and there’s a nice new gallery bar at the bottom.

On the content side I’ve refreshed the portrait and music galleries and added a selection of product photography - I’ll be expanding this in coming weeks.

The biggest change is the addition of secure client areas. Now when I complete a shoot for you you’ll be able to proof and download your photographs right from my site, secured behind your own personal log-in. This is something I’ve wanted to offer for a while and I’m really pleased to have it complete.

I hope you like the updates, please drop me a line and let me know what you think.