Last post I
drooled over looked at a portrait of the artist as eye-candy a model, only to pull a classic c.i. and abandon the further exploration of the analysis. There are a number of elements to look at: a) the environment/location, b) the pose; c) the vantage point of the photographer; d) the styling of the sitter; e) lighting. Here goes…
a) The location
Industrial sites are not conventionally known as scenic or beautiful environments that would merit a photograph or would be worth-while locations for photo-shoots. By placing the sitter in this environment, the photographer communicates a number of subtle messages. This man, the image tells us, is not a romantic hero but he is a hard worker. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeve and get his fingers dirty. He is a “worker”, not a luxury creature.
In recent years, there has been a fashion of converting industrial buildings into dwellings – the “loft”. These are usually seen as rather “cool” places to live in. With that in mind, the image communicates to us that the sitter is a fashionable, young(ish) person with enough money to live in a sought-after location/dwelling. Lofts have also an association with art in the sense that they were often used by artists as their studios. Again, this association rubs off onto the sitter and could possibly give him the air of an avantgarde artist. His conventional styling, however, seems to contradict that – but we’ll get to that in d). Nonetheless, the denotative meaning of the location as a possibly stylish, fashionable, artistic loft brings with it the connotative meanings. Lofts are seen as slightly quirky, unusual dwellings, often used by creative people such as artists for combined work and living spaces. Therefore they are connected to progressive thinking and avantgarde art. At the same time they also suggest pared-down, minimal living and a lifestyle that is focussing on essentials rather than ostentatious and opulent displays of wealth (such as a mansion or a country house or indeed a palace).
Is the sitter an artist? A fashionable person? In any case, he must have a sense of art and creativity if he is placing himself in this kind of environment. We have already been given an interpretation of the sitter without knowing who he is and why he is in this environment. That is how sneaky modern portraiture works… Before you know it you have been sold your worst enemy as your saviour. Maid Marian and Sir Guy anyone???
Come back for more semiotic nit-picking in the next post when I look at our sitter’s delicious pose… There’s a good deal I have to say about that, particularly his deep grey eyes, the dark short hair, the look of anger, the open shirt collar… *trailsoffandglazesover*