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Chloe Kramer's picture

Expression Experiment

While these pictures are of faces, I don’t know that I would classify them as portraits though. I was experimenting, and I would love any CC. Thank you!1

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8 Comments

Alan Brown's picture

Ju Chloe, I think I can see what you were going for here but it would be good to have details.

The most obvious issue for me is the eyes. we are always drawn to the eyes so they absolutely must be in focus (or perhaps for something abstract be the absolute opposite). Most of the images have the focus somewhere on the mask.

If you are attempting to display the harshness of the pandemic then I think you have achieved that - it looks like on the first two facial blemishes have been accentuated (sharpness/texture).

I think this has promise as a series but would like to see consistency between the framing and mask positioning (3 & 4 go a ways to that).

#3 is my favorite - sharpest eyes, mask & hair frame the face nicely.

I hope this helps

Chloe Kramer's picture

Hi Alan, and thank you for your comment. I see some very helpful tips. I do however agree more with Chris on the positioning, and my vision for the eyes was almost for if an afterthought. I was trying to focus on the masks and let the emotions of the people booed through as a background. I know personally a lot of the emotions or details that we see in a humans face are very diluted by the masks. I was trying hard to capture that, much like the first image.

Alan Brown's picture

Thanks Chloe. Knowing your thought process helps. As I tried to infer, the eyes either need to be in focus or completely out. I agree with Chris that as only slightly out judges would view as a technical flaw.

I do feel these have potential to present a compelling tale.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Hi Chloe! Classify them as portraits or nor, you've certainly captured "the face of COVID" for me, as this is by now the all-too-familiar appearance of people. I largely agree with Alan, especially about the importance generally of getting eyes tack-sharp, and the third is the clear leader here.

BUT I've also seen a very powerful body of work of a man who documented his own journey with an ultimately deadly cancer. One image, looking down on himself as he lay on some grass, has blurring as he moves during the exposure. The blurring has a powerful effect in what was for me the most intensely moving, haunting image, as if he's dissolving, or struggling to exist.

I'm less clear about the need for consistency that Alan mentions. A typical approach to a portrait series would be to keep things the same, so we just compare & contrast individuals, but different framing, choosing colour or mono, and so on could also be a way of showing how different people are. So the typical.approach is not necessarily the best or only correct approach.

Looking at your title, it strikes me that the first two especially look quite troubled, the third determined and the last relaxed (to grossly oversimplify), so masked or not, you've certainly captured different and quite powerful emotions.

I'm always interested in your exploration, and get a vicarious kick out of feeling as if I'm participating in the experiment. It would be interesting to consider how big to print these if they were a series to hang on a wall. I mention this because on my 24" monitor these are larger than life-size, and so very in-my-face and confronting.

Chloe Kramer's picture

Hi Chris, and Thank you!! I have not honestly thought about printing them, but these are definitely something I might use for a contest at some point. Like I said with Alan, I was more focused on eyes in focus, but not crazy sharp. I personally like the first one the best.

Chris Jablonski's picture

I do fear that in a contest, the eyes not being tack-sharp will garner a lot of criticism, as if you got the basics wrong, Chloe.

Given your intent to focus on the masks, I would consider either getting both sharp by stopping down, or have the mask sharp, perhaps showing a little more of it, and make the eyes less sharp by opening up. As you like the first image the best this might suit your intent, and I think that the emotion will still be "read" in the eyes if they're less than sharp. To me, No. 2, with the blurriest eyes, has the most emotion, almost anguish.

I think I understand your intent, but as the series stands I think it might be missed. The images are a slightly uncomfortable in-between in terms of consistency versus variety, and risk leaving an impression that the focal point varies randomly too much.

Robert Tran's picture

I like the first image and suggest cropping in just a bit to really make the shot all about the eyes. For me, this shot transcends COVID and can be contextualized in a lot of ways. Also like that you kept the color for this one.

Pitter Brayan's picture

I do feel these have potential to present a compelling tale.