Artist Nina Katchadourian has a creative way of passing the time on long-haul flights.
She recreates Old Master Flemish Paintings in a series she has dubbed "Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.”
She makes these photos while in flight - using only her cellphone- and the materials she finds around her.
In her own words:
"While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror. "
"The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight."
"I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style."
"I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. "
"There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone."
This is Nina Katchadourian's website.
So, here's my point: "play" with your camera and your lighting. Use clothing and props in a unique and unusual way. Use these photos for inspiration...you have nothing to lose (except the boring old way of doing things).
Rules of thumb, #1 and #2:
"Clothes do not make the person - but they do make the portrait."
"Interesting clothing, props and lighting makes for an interesting portrait"
Any one of these would make a good reference photo for a painting.
A little imagination...
Lots of creativity...
By utilizing the materials at hand - not necessarily for their original function - but instead for a "look"...
Makes for some stunning and creative reference photos.
Too often I see portraits of people in "ordinary clothing"...but if you think "paintable clothing" - you'll end up with a better portrait.
By stretching her thinking beyond the ordinary, this artist created some very visually interesting and unusual photographs.
White is always a good way to "frame the face."
An interesting silhouette makes for an interesting portrait.
High contrast and definite shapes work in a portrait too.
All in all, I think that a great reference photo can be very simple - and very powerful.
And next time you're on an airplane and someone is hogging the bathroom...it could be an artist taking self portrait photos that look like an Old Master.
Or maybe not.