Thursday, March 1, 2012

Image of the Month: March

Back to the archives for a favorite.  In review of my range of work, portraiture might not immediately come to mind as a niche of mine.  However although somewhat selective in my portrait subjects and limited in volume, I definitely enjoy the opportunity to witness and capture intimate portraits that displays the inner person behind the facade.  My approach with portraits is typically non-traditional in that I often like the challenge of revealing the inner persona without always presenting the face.  This image, Anticipation, demonstrates my point that portraits are more than just faces.

Anticipation © 2005, Joanne Scherf

First of all a little background.  This image was one of several taken of a young woman pregnant with her first child.  It was shot on location outdoors using only natural light of the warm summer sun overhead. Although the other images of her were perfectly fine my eye was continually drawn to this one for a variety of reasons. Most importantly I felt it exuded more emotion; joy, hope, love, protection and warmth are just a few descriptive words that jump out at me from the image.  The question is why so much emotion from a "faceless" portrait?

My first inclination was to literally focus on and highlight or feature her present condition; pregnant belly.  I wanted to convey a sense of intimacy and emotional connection so I took several factors into consideration to achieve that effect.  One decision was to make the composition very simple and not introduce too many elements that would clutter the frame and distract the viewer.  Another was to have the woman assume a natural position with her arms and hands.  At this late stage of pregnancy I find most women rest their arms or caress their bellies, so naturally wrapping her arms in an embrace conveys her love and protection without any additional clues.  Another design element was the repetition factor to create a sense of unity. For example the circle or half circle is a repetitive line in the composition that combines all the parts into one uniform and unified image.  The circle of her naval and belly; a suggested circle by surrounding arms above and below the belly, and the half circle of the moon tattoo on the left hand all combine to create the illusion of an embracing circle.  Another element purposefully chosen was the vignette effect darkening the corners and creating another circle that envelops the image, again adding another dimension to the concept of unity.  A final decision was to make the image in black and white rather than color.  Black and white imagery tends to add an element of abstraction and eliminate the energy and sometimes chaos that color contributes.  All in all, each design consideration in the composition was done intentionally to tightly focus and direct the viewer's attention and create a warm image that conveyed a strong emotional connection.


  1. This is beautiful Joanne, your words and this photo took me right back to the feelings I had with my own pregnancy!! Heather from DDS : )

  2. Heather
    I'm glad you enjoyed not only the image but the commentary as well. I really enjoy giving the behind-the-scenes info on what goes on when I compose an image. Thanks again!