Dgrin Mini-Challenge #267 - Environmental Portraits

StueveShotsStueveShots Major grinsPNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins
edited May 31, 2018 in The Dgrin Challenges

I've got an idea! I want to focus on portraiture this round, in particular because I am working so hard to become better at it. I can learn a lot from all of you! As I looked over portraits I've taken lately that I consider "successful", I noticed that a lot of them have as much to do with their environmental context as with the person being photographed. So let's explore the genre of "environmental portraits"! In the words of Frank van Riper, an environmental portrait "lets me say something about my subject or, more correctly, lets the environment say something about the person or persons in the photograph."

Here are some guidelines that refine this concept for the purposes of this contest:

  1. Purposeful and (usually) posed. This is not street photography, where you've spontaneously captured someone in their environment. This is portraiture where the subject is known ahead of time (or spotted ahead of time, in the case of a stranger) and then purposefully placed into their environment. The subject is aware their portrait is being taken.
  2. There is a clear balance between the environment and the person--both elements of the photograph are part of the story the photo is telling.
  3. The environment reveals something about the person being portrayed. It is NOT simply choosing an interesting or beautiful location and shooting the person there. The location is part of the biography of the person.
  4. Attention is given to lighting (usually natural, or only slightly enhanced with flash or reflection), color and/or texture, and composition.

Please submit your three best environmental portraits. A brief caption is welcome--this genre of portraits often appear in magazine profiles, and are allowed a brief caption. So we are too! Black and white or color is fine. Can't wait to see what you've got! The contest begins today, May 30, and will end at midnight Pacific daylight savings time on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Here are some examples from my work:

  1. My eldest, who is studying anthropology and has a particular interest in ancient Britain, pictured at Hadrian's Wall. (An aside: Yes, he hiked in to this site over several kilometers in tie and dress shoes.)

  2. Senior portrait of a young lady who intends to enter the independent film industry, standing at the door of our local, teeny-tiny 20-seat, art house cinema.

  3. Portraits of my youngest son, who lives in a rural town, but loves the city--because of this, we purposefully traveled the 3.5 hrs into the city for his set of senior pictures. In most of them, the cityscape is quite blurred and therefore secondary to the portrait, but these two are purposefully about the environment as well as the young man.

Much better examples by better photographers found here and here.

1. Have fun sharing and seeing what others share!
2. The host supplies a topic and you post 1-3 images. The host judges the winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and is not eligible to enter.
The 1st place winner then chooses the next topic, judges the winner and then passes on the baton to the new champion.
3. Any photo you’ve taken is eligible, regardless of when taken or camera used.
4. Any amount of post-processing is allowed. However, it is helpful if you list your camera and lens along with your photo.
You may comment on other contestant's images. If you want someone to leave you some critique or criticism, just ask within your post.
5. The winner has up to three days (72 hours) to begin a new mini-challenge, or the honor goes to the #2 finisher and so forth.
1. Enter 1-3 photos and put them in a single post.
2. Either embed your image in the thread or, if you must, supply a link to it. Keep in mind, however, most people don't want to click to open photos hosted elsewhere (i.e. on your website).
3. Also try and resize your photos prior to posting so they're sized appropriately for viewing without having to scroll (~800 pixels on the longest side works best.)
4. Give each image you enter a title.
5. Enjoy discussion with members about their images, don't let this just be an entry thread!
6. When quoting a post change the IMG urls to a 200x200 size picture so it is clear your post is feedback and not another entry. (see here for help)
7. Don't be hesitant, share'em and enter!
Mini-Challenge pointers:
1. Upon winning a mini-challenge round your first step is coming up with a new theme, and start a new thread using the same format as others have used.
2. Make sure to notify the admin of this thread to update the main thread links with your entry thread.
3. Feel free to watch the thread as it grows or wait to the end time and look at all the entries all at once.
4. After the time/date has passed, then officially close the thread with a single post notifying everyone of the fact.
5. After you're finished judging start a new thread (again use the prior formats) and post your Winner and runners-up, it is important to have runners up incase the winner does not show within the 72hr window.
6. PM the winner with this info above and let them know they have 72hrs.
7. After the 72hrs and the winner does not show up, notify the next runner-up and post a message on the Winner thread of the fact.
8. Remember, if you're the Winner, you run the show.


  • JAGJAG Photomaniac Wasilla, AKPosts: 6,644Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 30, 2018

    Great idea Heather! Although not all are comfortable with portraits, I hope they take the time to challenge themselves to try and take a shot at it!

    Here are some of mine,

    1 My daughter's senior picture. She loves the outdoors and her home town in Alaska

    2 My Husband and 3 of my kids at the Wasilla Transportation Museum. My youngest son and husband really like trains and my eldest son likes the old cars. This was taken as part of our family photo sessions.

    3 This is my nephew with his first born son. He is very outdoorsy and loves camping and hunting here in Alaska.

  • StueveShotsStueveShots Major grins PNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins

    These are great, Joyce! I especially love the train shot with your family. I like the location and I love the differences in posture and height among your family members.

    I do hope people will give it a try...even if portraiture is not normally their thing. I like environmental portraits because, to me, the emphasis on on the story and biography, rather than specifically beauty or attractiveness (which can be intimidating to capture). But if the subject is a lovely as your daughter, you get both! :)

  • StueveShotsStueveShots Major grins PNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins

    One more thought, and then I'll be quiet and let folks experiment. Here is an example of an unposed shot that I still consider an environmental portrait. My son was very aware I was taking this photo, because I spent so long getting the right composition--but he ignored me. Thank goodness.

  • CavalierCavalier Life is a Bokeh Foresthill, CaliforniaPosts: 1,945Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 31, 2018

    Good subject for a mini. Here are a few of mine:

    1) A photographer friend perched in trees near Apple Hill, Ca. I was there to get some shots of she and her husband, but this one stood out.

    2) Baby-to-be shoot. Grandaughter and husband in Foresthill, Ca on a ranch property near the American River canyon.

    3) Another one from the baby-to-be shoot. Taken at a popular wedding venue in Foresthill, Ca, where there are lots of trees! The proprietors were kind enough to let us use the property for the shoot.

    This one is not for the mini, but rather just for fun. A silhouette overlooking the American River Canyon.

  • pegellipegelli Major grins BelgiumPosts: 4,595Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 5, 2018

    Nice theme :)

    1: Beer sommelier

    2: Busker, trying to make a living at the supermarket

    3: Bangalore city boy

    Pieter, aka pegelli
    My SmugMug
  • StueveShotsStueveShots Major grins PNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins

    Ooh! Nice choices, Pieter!

  • grandmaRgrandmaR Major grins Southern Maryland Posts: 1,685Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 8, 2018

    I have absolutely no photos that were purposely posed as a portrait - environmental or otherwise. The only environmental portrait that has any relation to this challenge is one I took of my husband when we were first married. He's always been a car guy - our first date was to the stock car races. But he does not like having his picture taken so it fails the challenge on that point. I didn't warn him that I was taking his picture

    1) June 1959 Car Guy

    2) Dental hygienist

    This was one taken because someone in a group I was in asked us to do 'street portraits' of random people, and this was the best I could do

    I did take a couple of shots I took of my dad to help me in painting his portrait. But we just went outside on the porch so there was nothing environmental about it.
    3) Dad

    I put the environment in the painting

    “"..an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." G.K. Chesterton”
  • slpollettslpollett Major grins Posts: 1,053Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 9, 2018

    Most of my environmental portraits are snaps of my daughter or husband.

    1. This one of my daughter was taken at the Hope Outdoor Gallery near downtown Austin, TX. https://austintexas.org/listings/hope-outdoor-gallery/7825/ I think there are plans to move the site to a different location this summer, so I have no idea if that is happening or not. It was a very cool location though.

    2. Near a mountain stream in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

    3. A senior portrait at a local park. The setting sun provided the most beautiful light.

    Sherry P.

  • lkbartlkbart Wandering in left field~ Derby, KansasPosts: 1,569Registered Users Major grins

    Great & different theme! Here's a few from me, better late than never.

    1. An engagement shoot for this lovely Goth couple, close friends with her family. We took a trip to my great grandparent's homestead where the home had burned down many decades ago but the dilapidated out buildings still stand. I grabbed this shot as they were setting up for a very somber shot, so they were getting their giggles out (I like this shot better).

    2. Pet the kitty. Sister to #1, she was one of the Alice's in Alice in Wonderland as a senior, so she wanted some shots by this Wonderland wall art

    3. My dancer daughter at a park

    A photograph is an artistic expression of life, captured one moment at a time . . .
  • StueveShotsStueveShots Major grins PNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins

    Thank you, Lillian! This contest is now closed. I will try to have results up soon.

  • StueveShotsStueveShots Major grins PNW MountiansPosts: 527Registered Users Major grins

    Results posted. Thanks to all of you!!

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