My Portrait Philosophy

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The following is a recent article I wrote for Bro&Brew

My Philosophy of a Portrait.

These days I frequently lecture on photography and truth be told for a man that hated being educated I actually quite enjoy it… But lets keep that between us bro’s.

At the end of my lectures I always open it up for any questions. One of the questions I often get is ‘What’s your favourite portrait you’ve taken?‘ It of course, isn’t an easy question to answer because my favourite portrait is usually my most recent one so it obviously changes on a regular basis.

Like in all art, I like my portraits to have some narrative and context. As of 9th July my favourite portrait is this one on the top of this article of my partner Emma…

Lets face facts, it can’t be easy going out with a photographer and having the constant threat of a camera being waved in your face – or being woken up at ridiculous AM with the words “wake up, I’ve got an idea”.

Anyway… back to narrative… My girlfriend, Emma went on a night out with some friends. The theme was  ‘cheerleaders’. To say Emma didn’t have a good night would be an understatement. But that’s not my story to tell so I won’t. The next day the cheerleader outfit was dumped unceremoniously in the bin. I looked at it and thought it needed a portrait. Something that would portray not just the outfit but the destruction of it. The photograph is real – it was her outfit, my girlfriend – stood in her bedroom. None of the surroundings were fabricated – that is something that has always been of great importance to me. Why try and recreate something that’s already there?

I want to be clear, there was no blood spilt that night but I wanted the image to show the inevitable hurt of a girls night out gone wrong. A night that ends in drama, disappointment, and an argument alongside a 3.00am “please come and get me” phone call.

I guess this gives it a personal touch. Apart from those of you fine people who have read this – most people will look at it and simply see a photograph of a woman covered in blood. I look at it and I see a memory. An evening. A real thing. Something that lives with or without photography. It’s that word I always speak of. I ramble on about. Yes, it’s that word: context.

Carl Beebee. (Photographer, Lecturer, Co-founder of Bro&Brew.

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