A week ago I embarked on a little mission to try to  deconstruct the elements that make up my work. The very first in the series was location which triggered a most intimate response from Kristina where she reflected back on her childhood memories and the lego-people she saved from the common box and she has been documenting the lego-people adventures ever since.

Todays deconstructed element comes very close to Kristina post and after taking plastic places, it is all about looking inside the soul of said plastic. Look in the eyes of my subject, and search for the emotion and personality hidden inside. Key elements from portrait photography dating back to the very first daguerreotypes my great grandfather used to take.

I will not go into great detail of all the different elements of portrait photography you can explore yourself (just explore the wiki link above as it gives a most wonderful journey into lightening and composition alike) except for two components that have been key in my personal journey up to now.

Phantom of the Opera
Phantom of the Opera

The very first is low key lightening.

While in itself not a deconstructed element it really helped me on my creative journey and I can really recommend to research it and make your own low key shoots as a study.
It will truly help to see your subject in a different light (pun intended), and it is actually a very cost effective way of shooting as you only need one light source, instead of the classic three point setup (euhh, did I not say a week ago we would not be talking shop here) which let you focus on your subject and all the expressions your subject has to offer.

My very first low key portrait was also the one that triggered our one series so if you are looking for additional inspiration don’t hesitate to go and check out Vesa, Mike or Shelly‘s if you have not read them or want to reflect with different eyes on their influences that made them grow as a creative photographer.

Guess what, I made it …

The second and actually much more important one for me is the eyes. The eyes are a key element that supersedes the photographic style of low or high key as they are present in both.  For me (and many others) a portrait stands or falls over the eyes. The ability or lack there of to share the inner monologue of the subject, the persona, the individual, the soul in the photograph.

The eyes are key.
They tell the message.
They are the window into the soul of the subject.
The eyes are my second deconstructed element and the pars pro toto of portrait photography.

Without eyes I would not be where I am today.
After all, I seem to be a portrait photographer shooting 16:9.

Summer Solstice

Curious what my third deconstructed element will be.


On a completely different message, we have a fantastic exhibition of our wonderful collective running in Seattle, and you can see our work in its full glory, constructed, and ready to trigger your imagination in the Bryan Ohno Gallery.

Go ahead and join the workshop starting in a few hours, or just stroll by and discover the beauty of toy photography in the heart of Seattle.

It is in the eye of the beholder …




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8 years ago

Thank you, Boris, for your inspiring thoughts about deconstructed elements and interesting links. It´s a great help for trying to draw my own map of rules, dos and don´ts.
And yup, already curious for a third element..

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