Portrait photography is both an art and a science. Producing an exciting portrait involves both the art of seeing, plus interacting with the subject, as well as the science of employing lenses, lighting and technique.
In that spirit I have worked with the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) at University of Pennsylvania for several years. Twice a year they publish a magazine that features articles about faculty research and activities.
I worked with the writer and art director to create a photograph that would work for a two page layout and illustrate an article about Prof. Emilio Parrado's research on the lives of Hispanic immigrants. As a visual symbol of a border, we used a razor wire topped wall near the university as a background. A low camera angle, strong off-camera lighting, digital adjustments to tone and color help establish the unsettling mood of this image.
Here are several other environmental portraits that I have shot for Arts and Sciences.
Josephine Park's teaching and research focus on questions of representing Asian American experience. As one of the scenarios, I opted for an out of focus neutral outdoor background.
Victor Mair helped organize a large exhibition entitled, Secrets of the Silk Road, at the University Museum, as well as writing the exhibition catalog. Incorporating Asian art from the Museum into the background helps illustrate his involvement with Asian culture.
The engineering building, Skirkanich Hall provides a spatially complex background for Robert Ghrist who teaches about multi-dimensional spaces beyond three dimensions.
The historic arched spaces of the Fisher Fine Arts Library form a background for Devesh Kapur, Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India.
The fleeting reflections inside a curved stairwell at Irvine Auditorium helps create a simple but abstract background for this portrait of Carolyn Abbate.
Having Brent Helliker sit amongst plants re-inforces his interest in plant biology.
This playful animated portrait of Penn's Water Polo Coach, Antonio Merlo, evolved from trying out several ideas by the pool.