My Top Ten Favourite Photos From 2013

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Thanks for reading! Andrew.



Top ten photos from 2013

Every January I take a little time out to choose my favourite images from the previous year. Contemplation and taking time to think are an important part of the creative process. The act of looking back over a body of work and thinking about it, not in a critical sense but looking for themes and trends, helps us assess the body of work that builds up over the years. I like to know where I’m going, and the path forward becomes clearer when you understand where you have come from.

2013 was a prolific year for me. I took lots of portraits – more than I’ve ever taken in a 12 month period (you’ll see some of them in my next ebook, which is due to be published by Craft & Vision later in the month).

Unlike my top ten lists from previous years there are no landscapes in the traditional sense. But look closely and you will see that it is incorporated into my portrait work. You can evoke mood by capturing slices of detail, and my portraits capture fragments of the local landscape as well as a human likeness. It appears here and there, providing hints to the wider space occupied by the model. The rest is filled in by the viewer’s imagination, and that’s where the emotional connection is made.

All my portraits are taken in natural light. For me, it is much more evocative and atmospheric than artificial light. It’s challenging to work with, but the results are better. Portraits taken by natural light feel more genuine, perhaps because the light provides a connection between the model and the landscape. They are timeless. Portraits lit by flash, no matter how accomplished, feel false. Trends come and go in lighting, and I suspect portraits lit by flash will date more quickly.

I’ve also started shooting in low light, to take advantage of the beautiful quality of the light during the twilight hours. With portraits, this means using prime lenses (the wide apertures let in more light) and high ISOs. Shooting at ISO 6400 and f1.8 is challenging in terms of focus, but again the results are worth it. I’ll be experimenting more with this during 2014.

As 2013 was so prolific for me, I’ve created two top ten lists: one for my colour images and another for black and white. It’s interesting to separate them out, and think about the qualities that I like in each. My heart is in monochrome, and I feel that my black and white portraits have more staying power. In the words of photojournalist Ted Grant:

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.”

I’ve provided links at the bottom to previous top ten lists. It’s interesting to see how my favourites have changed over the years – and the progression I’ve made as a photographer in that period.

Top Ten Colour Photos

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Let’s start with the only two non-portraits in my selection, taken at opposite ends of the year. The models in each are fire performers and have acts that use fire. The second image was created with the intention of capturing the stars in the night sky and the landscape as well as the light trails from burning steel wool.

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

These portraits were all taken in doorways. The idea was to create a portrait built on the tonal contrast between the model’s skin and the dark background. The last two portraits are of other performers, and mark part of my search to create character portraits of interesting people.

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Both these portraits capture the model’s beautiful smile. I also like the way the background is hinted at. The portraits reveal fragments of the landscape rather than the entire scene.

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

The final two portraits show some of my work taken at high ISO settings. I took both at ISO 6400 in rapidly fading daylight. The quality of light in both cases is stunning.

Top Ten Black and White Photos

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

These five portraits all show character. The models in the first four are performers, and I photographed the last girl because of her dreadlocks.

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

I’ve been trying to take more portraits of men this year, but must admit it’s been hard to find models. John was a great model, and these are my two favourites from our shoot. The second one is interesting because I processed it in DxO FilmPack 4. I wasn’t expecting to like this software much but really enjoyed using it. I intend to experiment with it more during 2014, so expect to see more black and white portraits with scratch marks like this one.

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

Top ten photos from 2013

I like these portraits simply because they’re beautiful. You can see that the combination of a short telephoto lens and wide aperture has captured fragments of the background. I darkened the background in each of these images in post-processing, which is something I do a lot with my black and white images in the search for dramatic tonal contrast between the background and the model’s skin.

Further reading

Top ten photo articles from previous years:

My Top Ten Photos From 2012

2011 Top Ten

2010 Top Ten Photos

More on the techniques discussed in this article:

Steel Wool Spinning

Portraits in Low Light

The Key to Successful Black and White Photography

DxO Film Pack 4

An Introduction to Silver Efex Pro 2

More portraits:

Fire Performers

 

 

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2 Responses to “My Top Ten Favourite Photos From 2013”

  1. Mike says:

    Andrew, my favourite is the black and white portrait of Wimmy on page 99 of “The Natural Portrait”. The colour version is a great portrait in its own right but the strong tonal contrast in the black and white version makes it a stunning image.

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