Chris Knight’s The Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Crafting Light and Shadow​

KNIGHT, C. (2017). The dramatic portrait: the art of crafting light and shadow.

©Chris Knight

Practically traces portraiture back to the dinosaurs—the Egyptians, actually—and follows the portraitist’s craft through millennia of art history that eventually lead us to the age of the photograph. All of this is germane to portraitists of any era. Many of the canons for observing and recording the human face are direct legacies of Renaissance painters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Dürer, their compatriots and their ensuing generations.


"Without light, there is no photograph. As almost every photographer knows, the word photograph has its roots in two Greek words that, together, mean drawing with light. But what is less commonly acknowledged and understood is the role that shadow plays in creating striking, expressive imagery, especially in portraiture. It is through deft, nuanced use of both light and shadow that photographers can move beyond shooting simply ordinary, competent headshots into the realm of creating dramatic portraiture that can so powerfully convey a subject s inner essence. In The Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Crafting Light and Shadow, photographer and educator Chris Knight provides everything you need to know so that you can improve and elevate your portraiture. Beginning with a discussion of the significance of contrast (i.e., the relationship between light and dark) and how it pertains to a sense of drama in your imagery, Chris discusses the history of portraiture and light, from the early work of Egyptians and Greeks to the sublime treatment of light and subject by artists such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. Chris then dives into a deep, hands-on exploration of light and portraiture, offering numerous lessons and takeaways that will have you quickly improving your work. Chris covers: The qualities of light: hard vs. soft, as well as the spectrum in between ; The relationships between light, subject, and background, and how to control them ; Lighting ratios and how they effect contrast in your image ; Equipment: from big and small modifiers to grids, snoots, barndoors, flags, modifiers, and gels ; Multiple setups for one-light, two-light, and three-light shoots ; How color contributes to drama and mood, eliciting an emotional response from the viewer ; How to approach styling your portrait, from wardrobe to background ; A complete post-processing workflow, including developing the RAW file, maximizing contrast, color grading, retouching, and dodging and burning for heightened drama and effect." 



Sally Mann’s Exposure;

What an artist captures, what a mother knows and what the public sees can be dangerously different things.

"I was blindsided by the controversy. It occasionally felt as though my soul had been exposed to critics who took pleasure in poking it with a stick. I thought my relative obscurity and geographic isolation would shield me, and I was initially unprepared to respond to the attention in any cogent way. And all of this was worsened by the cosmically bad timing of the book’s release, which coincided with a debate around an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs that included images of children along with sadomasochistic and homoerotic imagery, stimulating widespread discussion about what constituted obscenity in art. Into this turbulent climate, I had put forth my family pictures. Although barely a quarter of them depicted a nude child, I was unfailingly described as the woman who made pictures of her naked kids, an assertion that inflamed my critics, many of whom had never actually seen the work."


I could relate to this when I doing my latest photographs. working with children is one thing, working with vulnerable children is something else.





New York Times Magazine

Kathy Ryan is an American picture editor who works for The New York Times Magazine.She has worked as the director of photography at the magazine for over 30 years, since 1987. Along with her exquisite editing and methods as an art director, she is widely known for her book Office Romance, which began as a personal project where she published photographs of The New York Times Building on Instagram. Her work revolves around the elegant environment of The New York Times building and portraits of her colleagues and those close to her.

During her time as director of photography, Ryan has been recognized in the National Magazine Awards in both 2011 and 2012. Ryan herself has received the Royal Photographic Society's annual award for Outstanding Service to Photography. Ryan also gives lectures on photography and serves as a mentor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City

has worked for over thirty years as director of photography at The New York Times Magazine. Untypically, she has employed younger, not as widely known, photographers for large commissions. Ryan first introduced videos along with photography and eventually also virtual reality is a book that captures Ryan's life in the office. It began with a series of photographs posted on Instagram and has become a photo book, with genres such as still life, portraiture, formal abstraction, and architecture. Through this she explores her office using photographs made with her cell phone. The development of her photography can be shown through this book as well, with her transition and combination of several photographic elements. She goes from capturing light in the office to incorporating her office materials as subjects for her photography and then including texture as well. Overall, the book has a sense of personality with the personal photos capturing her work life and the poetic literature that captions it.


Information from Wikipedia.


I see Kathy as one of the people who are helping the general public to all be photographers by the use of their Iphones. She not only has written a book containing images from phones but is currently curating an exhibition with Just mobile phone pictures. Is this the end of an era where DLSR cameras are concerned? She combines fine art and is very modern in her approach. Something I feel this module is helping me to understand. Kathy thrives on her Instagram account, this is an area I fail in. I get bored of it but I do see that is is very important for many people.



© 2018 by Gail Timms