The Empowered Portrait

Anthony Luvera is an artist whose work is related to this weeks task ‘The Empowered Portrait”. Luvera has been working with people who have experienced being homeless and rather than dictate how he wanted to portray these people he handed over the control to the subject. By giving them the technical knowhow of how to work the camera and providing them with the equipment he is giving them a chance to choose how they wanted to be represented. He builds a relationship up with the subjects and remains in contact with a lot of the people he has worked with, rather than take the approach other photographers may do. Which, may be to come in and photograph the same people from a distance bringing with them their preconceptions and agendas, leading to a mis-representation.

Through Luvera’s working method he questions the topic of authorship, and artist control. With the control of the representation being left up to the subject, where does the artists intentions lie and what are the issues with documenting someone else’s lives? Through the talk Anthony Luvera gave at our university he talked very strongly about the ethics of representing another persons life and the approach he takes to his subjects is very important to him. Through giving the people he worked with the opportunity to show what they wanted Luvera is comfortable with the ethics of the situation, as he isn’t bringing his own agendas to the way in which they are photographed.

Task 5 Below – 

“Through the first four workshops you have explored the power relationship between photographer and subject, starting with yourself before looking at someone close to you and a stranger. You should now apply your skills garnered through these and the technical workshops to assist either a stranger or someone you already know* to make their own portrait.

You should not take charge of the photographic conversation but should empower the ‘subject’ in being able to make their own pre-visualization and chosen representation, a reality.”

Below is my response to this weeks task. I chose to photograph the person I have used in one of the previous tasks ‘Nude and Naked’ as I thought it would be interesting to hand the power over to someone who has previously been the subject of one of my projects. I chose to use a film camera for this task as I didn’t want for her to be able to see the results during the session. I wanted to force her to consider the construction of the photograph more than she may have done with the knowledge of being able to see the photograph immediately after taking it. What I didn’t anticipate to happen is this caused a great deal of anxiety as she became even more conscious of how she would be presented, as she wouldn’t get any validation as to whether she’d be happy or not with the result. I chose this one from several that she took as the others appeared uncomfortable and as if she was putting on a fake persona rather than to just be natural.

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