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Blog of the week: David Atkinson-Beaumont

The latest learning log to make Blog of the Week is David’s People and Place blog. David is probably better known to fellow students from the student site and flickr as Atkobeau, and People and Place is his second OCA course. (His Art of Photography blog is also worth a look and is here).
There were two principal reasons that David’s blog caught my attention. The first is that he continually assesses how his work is going and what he might do differently next time. For the image above he writes:

I took Julie to the cemetery and I had in mind that she would look a bit haunted or melancholy. What happened in the end was that there were quite a few people visiting loved ones and we didn’t want to be disrespectful. We went to the oldest and quietest part of the cemetery and did some quick shots. As a result, Julie’s discomfort shows in the shots as concern and nervousness, she was nervous that we might be offending people by doing a photo shoot where they were mourning. We only stayed for a few minutes but I really like this shot. It was not sketched out in the planning stages. I used natural light as a flash would have been disrespectful.
Critical assessment of this image – This image has really good bokeh which works well in portrait shots. It’s the only shot where Julie is not making eye contact and I chose it because it’s the first shot without eye contact, where she was looking away to spot other people and not because I asked her to. This shows in her expression, she looks apprehensive and searching. her expression makes the shot.
Successful and unsuccessful techniques – I think this image teaches me that asking a subject to look away doesn’t work, the subject needs something to look at and react to. I like the post processing here too. I made the image seem colder and darker than it was. What isn’t brilliant though is the focus, it’s more on Julie’s hair than her eyes which is a shame.
Where do I need to strengthen my skills? I think in future when taking portraits of people, if I don’t want eye contact then I need to give them something to look at. I need to create reactions or situations where there is something for the subject to react to.

I think he is being a bit tough on himself and I will be interested to see what his tutor thinks (the shot is from the first assignment and he has yet to get the tutor feedback). He is right about the focus of course, but technical perfection is not the be all and end all. yet for me the image has a cinematic quality, the desaturated colours, the shallow depth of field and Julie’s worried expression, reminded me of another Julie. Look at this image from Nicolas Roeg’s visually hugely influential film ‘Don’t Look Now’.
The second feature that I like about this learning log is how it is clear that David is reflecting on his reading from the course reading list. In this post about a section of Roswell Angier’s ‘Train Your Gaze’ he is not afraid to admit that he might of missed the point, but it is also clear that he is learning how photography is informed by earlier influences.

Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka
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