Sunday, 17 July 2011


I know, I have seen the post on weareoca, and yes I would love to go, but alas, there is some important England Cricket game on that day so my husband, who booked tickets months ago, has the pass-out.  So, enjoy the day y'all...I would love to see his exhibition and to meet up with everyone, however, it is not to be this time.  I do really admire Struth's work, which has been an influence in some of my assignment work for Soc Doc.  And the recent image of HRH and hubby I thought was just brilliant.  I cannot imagine what you must be feeling if asked to photograph the Queen.  Can you imagine the pressure and expectation? Part of you would feel so honoured and the other part would surely, sorry to put it bluntly, be 'bricking' it.  You would need to be one helluva confident photographer wouldn't you!!

I don't know how much input the Queen's aides will have had, but I do think his approach is brave in many ways.  I like the fact that he has been true to his own and previous work, it isn't heavily orchestrated or formulaic or altered for his sitters.  It sits neatly within his own family series. It is a couple within their home environs.  The image is a mix of formality in their poise and environment yet his approach means the viewer can still connect with them in an informal way.  Personally I think it is dignified, appropriately respectful yet a tangible connection can be made.

The lighting is an interesting choice, subtle, to the point of subdued, yet for me this is refreshing as Struth has avoided the overly lit, overly professional looking images with even lighting throughout.  His imposition is minimised.

But what about planning for such a photoshoot.  Did he test out a few locations earlier in the day?  Did he choose the chair and that room because of the vibrant green, ornate chair, with the accent green colour evident in glimpses of the picture on the left and in the chairs on the right.  Such a vivid colour is certainly surprising and brings in a new dimension to the dynamic given the conservative nature of the couple. Did Struth shuffle the chair about a bit beforehand until it was in the right place.  Near enough the window for natural light, at an angle to the walls to give a feeling of depth to the room. Then how to place the chair, intentionally at a slight angle to reflect the natural hierarchy of the couple and also so their pose is less confrontational. The image is not a portrait of the couple.  For me it is an environmental portrait as we are given access to the grandeur, size and importance of this couple by their surroundings.

So when you've sorted out the composition of the image, the very important couple enter the room. I suspect there is minimal 'warming up' chit-chat having been previously informed what is required. Are they asked to take a seat, look directly in to the camera and don't say 'cheese'?  And then, possibly on a large format camera the pictures are taken. Several minutes later the job is done!!! I wonder if that is how it works...


  1. Ah Penny! This post just cost me £80.00! I bounced from somewhere, to somewhere else and found a new gallery in London called Host; and became a member! Following on from Clive W's post on the OCA blog about we need to see current photography! Dunno how it all happened! But it looks interesting! Pity you can't make it to the Struth show; but if you come to London for any others and want company, let me know!

    PS Can't find your email to answer. But no, don't have a blog!

  2. Ouch blimey, that's an expensive coffee break!! I really wanted to go to a presentation and see the prison work of Robert Gumpert at Host several months ago, but it was mid-week and in the evening. But it has had some really interesting exhibitions on there. Lucky you living in the city...plenty of places to visit to get you inspired all the time I would imagine. And thank you for the offer, might take you up on that sometime...

  3. Wish I lived in the city! Nope - Sandhurst - so it takes me about 2hrs to get anywhere decent in London - but I try! Will let you know what I think of their magazine, when it arrives…you might be back from France by then! In fact, you should be back, no-one deserves that long a break!! They say about 28 days before it all gets processed. But I had a quick look at the preview and it did look good. I really will see more exhibs. But need to thank you once again, you have helped me get more inspired! Take care and have fun