A portrait is a depiction of someone, weather it's description of who they are or just what they look like.
When we fail to look past appearances, our view of someone can be distorted by what they look like. We can also fail to define ourselves properly when we define ourselves by what we have and what we accomplish. I decided to make portraits on the material side of the spectrum, to explore how well the objects that we own us actually describe us.
To do this, I asked several of my friends for a collection of varied objects that describes who they are. Objects that were suggested were things from childhood, decorations, clothing, hobby-related things, and a pair of underwear to push personal boundaries and show the gender of each portrait.
The technique that I used involved long exposure photography. I set the camera to 30 seconds, an aperture of 22, ISO 160, with a focal length of 35mm. I would start with the most difficult object to place, then depending on the value of the object, I would replace the object every few seconds. The most difficult thing, besides placing the objects correctly and for a balanced amount of time, was keeping the background dark enough. I overcame this by using one direct light that lighted the objects from the side in a way that avoided the background.
The images turned out looking somewhat lonely or empty. However, there is some motion blur from where the camera detected the light bouncing off of my hands and the objects as I replaced them. I decided to keep the blurs because they seem to give a spirit-like effect. While I am somewhat disappointed that the images seem empty, I think they speak a lot to the fact that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot define ourselves with our possessions.
This collection was named "Person-less Portraits" for my photography survey class because, instead of successfully describing what people are like through their possessions, the series morphed beautifully into something else. It morphed into a display of the emptiness that comes when you base your identity on just what you own.