Andrew Wilkinson Photographer


For the longest time I have wanted to create a series of portraits inspired by the book ‘LEAST WANTED‘ by Steidl Kaseher. A few pages into the book are two points:
01. a mugshot does not mean that the person is guilty or innocent of any crime.
02. the fact that a mugshot was taken does not establish that a crime was committed or that the subject of the photograph is guilty or innocent of any wrongdoing.

The book is a thick, thick book of mug shots curated from a collection of thousands of photographs dating from the early 1870’s to the ’70s. Four pages in the book have the subject holding a mirror over their shoulder with a scoop cut out of the lower right corner. This unconventional shape allows the subject to hold the mirror close to their body, and allows for the photographer to see both front view and side profile of the subject in one shot. Is this why this was done? To only use one frame of film per customer? If so, I find that to be ingenious. Ever since seeing these few pages of ‘double-headers’ I had to make my own set.

I have to admit, this first go around I did some very backwards things technically + had two battery fails (yes, two – camera and triggers). Nightmare.

I set up a white-black v-flat at a 90 degree angle, the white canvas was the backdrop, and black was camera right. Camera left was a 750 watt strobe at 50% with a grid. The mirror held in the subject’s right hand acted as a flag to cut the strobe. All of this backwardness made for terrible lighting – it was an experiment to use light and cut light to create unflattering everything. And, I had left the camera on a custom color temperature from a shoot the day before, which caused the inaccurate blue tones. After that, yes, there’s more – I ran a bleach filter to subtract any saturation and kicked up tonal contrast. What a mess.

I did tell the subjects’ what this project was all about and did not encourage or speak too much – leaving them to their thoughts and expressions – mostly. Very few needed prompting. I think what is interesting is the combined front view and side profile. We never see ourselves in a portrait this way.

As a part-time contrarian (with my own editing), I changed my mind half way through, and decided to throw consistency out the window. The end result – two edits. Edit one is the cool blue set, and edit two is a mix of production that best suited the individual. I think I got it right in the end.

I have to keep thinking about this, why I really wanted to make this series. I’ll continue to work this series as there were many friends that should be in it. Check back some day, I might have more answers.

Distorted Self Portraits

Distorted self portraits is a project I have been thinking about for a while – perhaps it’s a reaction to the massive amount of selfies I see, and then perhaps my images become the anti-selfie. I have an Art Photography class coming up that I’ll be teaching and this is one of the assignments. Students are challenged to take their self portrait, (with the camera on timer), and they must distort their portrait photographically, not digitally. They can obstruct their face and get creative with lighting and angles.

At my studio I have lots of masks that I’ve collected – really for no reason other than an impulse buy when I’m at my favorite dollar store around the corner. For this assignment I felt I could finally employ some masks. The set up is an easy one – one light front right and high up, camera on a tripod and connected to a laptop so I can see the screen in preview mode, and shallow DOF, f/1.4 – the focus is though part.

One of my favorite examples of photographer as subject is the series Untitled Film Stills by Cindy Sherman – it still resonates with me – I have loved that series of images for so many years. Photographers Diane Arbus and Ralph Eugene Meatyard have several photographs where the subject wears a mask. Although their images are memorable to me – they are not so much of an influence on my work.

Some photographers as artists have to be the subject – and I don’t think that’s out of ego or narcissism, just a practicality. And, other photographers have no interest in being their own subject – I understand that too. Distorted self portraits is a useful exercise that enables the photographer as subject to take creative liberties.

Andrew Wilkinson

Flora Noir

Still life photography is such a great pursuit between things – especially, when a series reveals itself right in front of you. I seem to end up collecting and keeping vessels of dried flowers at home and at the studio. Still can’t bring myself to throw them all away – just yet. With this series of images the plan was to photograph the still life sets as dark as possible – for a dramatic effect, and still be able to see the subtlety of form and tone.

Bull Terrier

Luxury Item

Lux is my Bull Terrier. What a great and loyal pet she is. Early in the mid-19th century the breed was developed to satisfy the needs for vermin control and animal-based blood sports. Since that was idea was swiftly outlawed, the breed fell out of fashion. Only to be reintroduced later as a men’s fashion accessory.

This bit is taken from Wikipedia: The epithet “White Cavalier”, harking back to an age of chivalry, was bestowed on a breed which while never seeking to start a fight was well able to finish one, while socialising well with its “pack”, including children and pups. Hinks himself had always aimed at a “gentleman’s companion” dog rather than a pit-fighter—though Bullies were often entered in the pits, with some success. Today the Bullie is valued as a comical, mischievous, imaginative and intelligent (problem-solving) but stubborn house pet suitable for experienced owners.