Faces portray so many stories

A child weighs up an enormous ice cream. Picture by Paul Appleby.
A child weighs up an enormous ice cream. Picture by Paul Appleby.

Morpeth Camera Club

On November 13, Vice Chairman John Barnes revealed members’ response to his first challenge of the season — to be creative, test photographic skills and get honest feedback.

It required the photographer to focus on facial expressions; with the human face being so expressive it can portray many emotions. Facial expressions are universal, of happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust, which span all cultures.

Similarly, they can tell stories. A lined face tells a different story from youthful, smooth skin. One tells of a lifetime of experience whereas the other could be an unknown, exciting future. Some stories are easy to spot whilst others are more subtle.

Members were asked to submit four facial images which were not staged and were taken from a street photography viewpoint when the subject was unaware.

The audience was invited to provide constructive criticism and imagine what the subjects were thinking. 

Eleven members rose to the challenge and came up with characters of all ages. They were asked to describe the circumstances. Were they happy to take candid shots and were they challenged by people who did not want their picture taken?

Entries included a lady frowning at her phone, a Goth whose expression changed from eerie in a staged shot to cheerful once it had been taken, and Laurel and Hardy lookalikes, who in character could pass for the real thing, but in repose didn’t resemble the pair at all.

There were young, giggling girls teasing each other; a man waiting patiently with shopping bags; and a street musician totally absorbed in the music contrasting with an exuberant double bass player.

An image of a Nepali child raised the issue of whether permission should be sought before taking the shot, which led on to a discussion on methods used.

Do we use sympathetic equipment when photographing in busy urban environments? Using a large camera with a huge lens would not be as discreet as a phone. Suggestions that images could be taken at hip height or from a camera on a table were made.

A passionate Italian lady trying to sell her products, a dog staring at food on a pub table, an amazed child with an enormous ice-cream, the deep concentration of a book reader, weathered faced farmers in conversation, bored children in a Spanish parade, characters at a rock concert, a veteran selling poppies, and marchers at rallies were also show.

In most instances monochrome images concentrated on the subject, avoiding background distractions, whereas colour shots displayed more emotion and gave more opportunity to create a story. Cropping can enhance the feeling of what the subject is thinking.

John, who encouraged audience participation, thanked all who took part and Chairman Mark Harrison thanked him for presenting a very interesting evening.

For more information about the club visit www.morpethcameraclub.co.uk