Dogwood 52: Assignment #7 "Faceless"

Some friends and I are doing the Dogwood 52 Week photography challenge. We submit a photo each week on a given "assignment" along with commentary and discussion. This week's assignment was:

[Portrait] Faceless: Tell someone's story without showing their face.

The submissions follow in order submitted along with the photographer's commentary. We'll add other commentary and critique from the group as it comes in.


This is another photo taken with my phone because I didn't have my camera.  Maybe it would've been a better shot with a nicer camera... but maybe it helps me focus on what makes a good photo instead?


This was a fun assignment!

It took about 20 shots in this dimly lit restaurant before I could get the right camera settings. At this point, I'm pretty sure he was on to my game. I knew for this assignment I wanted to capture someone working. Someone that was so focused on the task at hand getting through the day. Is he thinking about what he's cooking? Or a problem he left at home earlier that morning? Also, I loved how my camera was able to pick up light that was not visible to the eye. It made my theme even more present. There is more to this man. 

Kento: First good work on finding great settings for the shot. I'm impressed the subject is so sharp in what looks like quite low light, without being too noisy. Also it's a nice touch along the theme of "there is more to this man" that the contents of his pan are peaking but not quite visible.


Faceless is interesting because it anonymizes your subject a bit. The conceptual palette you bring as a viewer of the image is more spartan, platonic. In this case, I took advantage of getting a shot of my dad at a museum in Pittsburgh, but it's not so much my dad as just an unknown observer witnessing an uninterpretable display. The display imposes but is essentially static, the pose is engaged but provides no clues as to the subjects interpretation. All that is for you to fill in.
I tried cropping out the other people in the exhibit, but then things were too spartan. I wish I could have included more people, actually, but in such a way to make them irrelevant to the subject—blurred perhaps.
All together, faceless is a good concept I want to keep in my portrait toolkit. It creates a lot of storytelling potential by, oddly enough, removing elements.
See also a few runner-up images that I quite like but didn't think made the cut. I am really emotionally attached to the other one of my parents in the bar—I hope that comes through generally.


What's it like to be a part of the system, to be the object of millions of people's fantasy and at the same time transparent? 


Sneaking in some work time this Thanksgiving weekend, amongst all the food, family and festivities.
Zinnia: nice photo! B&W portraits have this effect I can't quite describe, but it's a good one. My eye is drawn to the laptop but also to the subject, and so the story I see is about what he's working on. I'm curious?


This is a photo of a couple looking over the city of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington. When I arrived at Mount Washington, there were lots of couples taking in the city and experiencing a quiet moment -- which presented the perfect opportunity for a faceless portrait! Because it was a night shot, I decided to make this into a black and white photo to up the contrast and silhouette the couple against the city. In Lightroom, I played with contrast, color techniques, and grain in order to bring out the couple against the cityscape.