Teresa Pilcher Photography

Faces as points of Focus

“The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself, carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion.”― Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The use of Faces as points of Focus is a device that many Artists have used before us, our eye travels from face to face, and is thereby drawn around the image.  There is a famous painting by Renoir that comes to mind, it is a cafe scene, Luncheon of the Boating Party, depicting a group of his friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise along the Seine river in Chatou, France. Renoir has captured the beautiful light and atmosphere, but the main element in this painting is his characters, the viewer is drawn to their faces and also to their expressions.

What makes an image more compelling to the viewer. Does the image use humour or evoke an emotional response? Is the image thought-provoking? Does the image suggest a sequence of events, or a decisive moment? Analysis is usually only possible when you are processing your images, but the more you are aware of these ideas, the more it will become evident in your work.

 This image was taken from the sidewalk into a busy cafe in Paris. There are many layers of faces, emotions and expressions. My eye is drawn to their faces, also to their hands and cigarettes. The subjects here are not unlike characters in a movie, there are main actors and supporting actors, they all have different stories and purposes.

Another image from the same cafe. The three women on the left are more serious and deep in conversation where the two women on the right are light-hearted and sharing a joke. For me it is the juxtaposition that works well here.

This last image makes me smile, the man on the right is trying to get his friend’s attention and pointing to an unknown subject off camera, while his friend is busy watching me, I have also captured the attention of the man in the background on his cigarette break. I am aware that all of these stories are very subtle, however if the viewer wants to invest the time in looking at the image longer as you would with a Renoir painting there are subtle nuances that translate. These images are studies but they illustrate my point well.

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” ― Henri Cartier-Bresson


Any thoughts?

Teresa Pilcher

Teresa Pilcher Photography A Blog on Street Photography

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