Damien talked about portraiture and prodded his audience into deeper analysis of what we actually mean by the term. Does a portrait have to be only human - can it apply to animals, does it have to be a co-operation between subject and photographer, must there be eye contact, environmental clues, and how close is okay? Damien illustrated his points with his own portraits - comparing the different effects and moods created by changing the lens, the distance, the pose and, of course, the light. His own approach is to let people be themselves and then try to take a different sort of image from what might have been expected by choosing a combination of those factors to achieve the image he feels works best. There was an interesting discussion about whether the subject, the commissioning party and the photographer would choose the same ‘best’ image.
Using an orange in an eggcup and large LED light panels, he showed the way lighting from different angles adds to the resulting portrait. And then it was time for audience participation and willing volunteers were dragged from the floor to be models, hold reflectors and press the shutter. Damien gave a practical demonstration of working with the camera tethered to the laptop so that every detail of each shot was more easily seen. He has such a warm and engaging style, he soon had a lively and interested audience fully involved in the whole process. Hopefully we will see how the theory is put into practice when we have the September competition on the theme of ‘People’.