Environmental Portraiture

As part of the Location Photography module, I am required to take 2 environmental portraiture images of a person with an ‘unusual job.’ One must be interior while the other is exterior. I am also required to use flash, an interesting challenge as I have only ever used it in a studio setting.

Environmental portraiture is considered to be:

‘making a portrait that’s executed in the subject’s living, working, or playing environment and illuminates their life and surroundings.’ (Bourne, 2011)

Arnold Newman was considered a pioneer of the technique, representing many well known figures through the technique, such as Stravinsky. One of Newman’s best environmental portraits comes from photographing Alfried Krupp.

Krupp was an amateur photographer and Olympic sailor who was the heir to the Krupp industrialist empire. He was a supporter of Nazism and a member of the SS from 1931. Krupp was imprisoned at the Nürnberg war crimes trials for building a fuse factory inside Auschwitz to take advantage of slave labour. Newman has described his photograph of Krupp as ‘one of my best photographs.’ anewmanarms

The image is extremely evocative of villainy and has a cold, calculating feel through the pose of the subject, the contemplative look and the very sculptural lighting. The lighting creates interesting shadows on the face that darken the eyes, making him look more sinister. The background links Krupp to the industry from which he came, while also combining it with the sinister look of the man himself. This ensures that he is remembered for his role in World War II and his 12 year imprisonment for the use of slave labour. Krupp was apparently not a fan of the image: ‘When he saw the photos, he said he would have me declared persona non grata in Germany.’ (Source)

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