In the future I really would like to put my attention on portrait photography and today I am still looking for a personal style in which I feel comfortable. I have a special interest for people living at far side of the society, the ‘forgotten ones’. For this portfolio Richard Dumas and I have selected one of my portraits of homeless people. However I don’t want to put myself on the market as a documentary photographer only. I see a good portrait also as a ‘one-shot-documentary’ in which a person’s mind and habits are visible.
As a educated graphic designer I talk and discuss about images daily. Photography has been one of my biggest interest for years and since four years I really wanted to make photographs instead of only talking about them. I am interested in people and I like to watch them, not as a voyeur but more as a person for who the personal contact is most important. People I photograph are alway aware of being photographed.
Portfolio from the Portrait workshop with Richard Dumas, October 2013.
Written review by
Photoeditor New York Times International, France
The photographs that compose this portfolio, are all of different subjects - with some of them repeating - so I would like to focus on each one of them, since this is less of a portrait series and more a collection of single shots, photographed sometimes with very different styles.
Marcel has some very interesting images and some others that in my opinion do not stand at the same level.
1st picture: strong image, a tight vertical picture in which Marcel manages to concentrate a lot of information, everything communicates in the photo, the body language of the man - his hands are tights and holding on to his blanket. he is carrying some other fabric on his back (maybe his belongings). And he has a very intense expression, his eyes area proud and shy at the same time. This is good example of what he says in his introduction of his work: Marcel's premise is that "I see a good portrait also as a 'one-shot-documentary' in which a person's mind and habits are visible."
I also like picture 2: good composition, nice expression, I like the fact that Marcel is experimenting with the window and using it to frame his subject as well. the position of the girl though feels a bit artificial, so maybe he could work and try to improve that, especially since he said his goal is to reveal the world and habits of the people he portrays.
The third picture of Marcel's portfolio is to me less succesful. Marcel is trying different styles, and for this image he has chosen to be much tighter to his subject and to use a different perspective, shooting the young woman from above and using color instead of black and white. the light is nice, and coats the subject with a warm glow, and the perspective is interesting. But the hand of the woman is in an awkward position on her neck and that is accentuated but the fact that Marcel is shooting from above and by the very short depth of field that he is using, so that the chin is in focus and the hand is out of focus, which looks not so appealing to me. I would be interested in seeing if he had other similar frames without the hand.
Picture 4 is a good portrait, well framed, with a nice light: the left part of the girl's is light and the right part is much darker, creating an interesting mood. I like the texture of the wall on the background which is not plain.
The 5th image is also well done, again a tight image, shot straight forward this time, using the hair of woman to create some mistery, hiding her right eye to the viewer, which makes the reader'e eye go straight and focus on the woman's fascinating eye, and intense expression.
In his 6th picture Marcel is using the light again to create some tension, but this time with a less successful result in my opinion: the position of the woman looks somehow artificial, the look that she gives to the photographer also seems unnatural, and her head is maybe too tilted. the result for me is that I do not focus on the subject and her world anymore, I get the feel that she is creating a pose and a mood for the camera and that the picture speaks less about her world.
I really like the next picture. Marcel is using again a frame in his composition, a mirror this time, to focus the viewer attention. I love the man's expression, the light is interesting. And I like the fact that on the left lower corner of the picture the photographer included, in a very subtle way, some other elements: a hairspray and a comb, that makes the viewer curious about the location: are we in a barber shop? is the man a barber in his shop, or a customer? the imagination of the viewer is solicited to come up with questions, and stimulated to desire to know more about the man.
Picture 9 as well shows us a man at work, with his tools, flowers. the man though is looking right into the camera with a less spontaneous body language, which makes the photograph somehow artificial. Marcel is shooting tilting down his camera, and this causes a weird angle and compression of the man's body, which is the same think he does in the following image. The woman is shot from above down on some stairs, drastically altering her proportions, even though he has done a good job lighting her, keeping the light on her face and letting the rest of the image go darker, I like it less than other pictures in the portfolio.
The last picture of the portfolio is a very tight portrait of a young woman, again shot with very short depth of field, enhancing the subject's features, beautiful lips, nose and expressive eyes. the color is beautiful.
What I think Marcel could try to experiment with - also given his desire to document his subject's mind and habits - is try to work as well on the context surrounding his subjects and including sometimes the space and objects around them (like he does with the man in the mirror and the man with the flowers). This would help him bring the reader a bit more into their world.