Exercise 2.5 An identi-kit portrait

1. You’ll need at least two people for this exercise, but four would be ideal. Prepare a plain background to photograph them against, preferably near a window for the light.

2. Frame the portraits equally close and with a shallow enough DoF to throw the background out of focus. Aim at a ‘deadpan’ expressionless face filling the frame like a large oval shape.

3. Upload the portraits and process them in exactly the same way so that they fit together well. You don’t want one high contrast and the other low contrast, for example.

4. Print out the best portraits about A5 size. If you’ve made only two portraits, make two prints of each face.

5. Fold each portrait into a squareish ‘tube’ and stick it together, so that you have the forehead on one side, the eyes on another, then the nose and mouth on the other sides. Like the one on the right:

6. Now combine them together to make an ‘identi-kit’ face.

7. Re-photograph in different combinations. How could you develop this? Make a family photo-fit? Make boxes or a photographic Rubik’s Cube? Photography isn’t just about a flat image; it’s an object you can move around, cut up, paint on, re-assemble and integrate with other objects.

The four portraits


Observations and Learnings:

It appeared to be a drag when I began this exercise but then it was great fun. The four poor people who went through this transformation!! While making the cubes, it was interesting to note the face dimensions and the features of each individual. How someone’s eyes are deeper set than another, how one’s nose is shorter than the other. It definitely would not have forced me to notice all these things. Definitely a fun exercise. It was like creating new people and meeting them 🙂 The kids especially loved it . The fun experiments that came out of it were :

  1. A guessing game which included taking many people’s portraits and then dividing them into parts and guess who belonged to who. A would be hit game at children’s parties!
  2. A photo studio where kids put on these “masks” over their eyes/nose/mouths and created another new identity and went mad taking pictures.
  3. The semblance to familiar faces and why each one of them is different than the other.
  4. Trying to create identities based on what feature one would want – what if I had your eyes? kind of exercises. Reminds me of a photo studio in America where two decades back they would photograph a couple and then create pictures of what their offspring would look like. Well mine looked nothing like what they had produced!! 🙂

Somehow all these new faces appeared to be known to me – I have definitely seen this face somewhere was my reaction to most of these new faces. A great fun exercise to learn and observe many things which you cannot unless you attempt this exercise. How each part of one’s body defines and creates the personality of that individual. Definitely more fun than it promises and a fantastic learning tool.



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