Dark, Sharp, Gritty!

 

Piercings and tattoos are characterisic of the subjects they belong to. Photograph/Kelly Castro

Piercings and tattoos are characterisic of the subjects they belong to. Photograph/Kelly Castro

Kelly Castro photographs intriguing and creative people from different walks of life, to portray how individuals can be similar, and yet so different.

My Assignment

  • Description: To represent the men of my era as a visual study for future generations.
  • Duration: An ongoing project since four years.
  • Notes: For a unique representation of Kelly Castro’s work, you can visit http://moebio.com/loveispatient/

When I started exploring photography, the first images that I recall resonating with me were those of Richard Avedon’s In the American West. I love the 1960s portrait aesthetic of photographers like Avedon, Irving Penn, and William Klein.
Inspired by this style, I conceptualised a series of portraits that has kept me occupied over the past few years—Exteriors.

My Perspective
Somewhere around the mid-1990s, I started carrying a camera with me everywhere and have not stopped since. This project provided me the opportunity to meet some talented individuals including musicians, artists, television stars and even one of the inventors of Adobe Photoshop!
Of course, like most photo works, the real spark that got me started on this series was closer home. I photographed my father and cousins in a similar style and after that, I decided to continue doing portraiture on the same lines.
The word ‘exteriors’ is generally associated with architecture. It implies that you are only observing the outside, as if you are seeing the external façade of a building. I wanted to create a collection of snapshots that would represent the men of my generation and vicinity. I want them to be viewed as a large group in a manner that prompts comparison between each subset of images as well as each individual photograph.

I always watch out for that slight change of expression, which may happen only momentarily. Photograph/Kelly Castro

I always watch out for that slight change of expression, which may happen only momentarily. Photograph/Kelly Castro

The Process
Black and white photography is something that I enjoy and in this case, it became a visual device to tie the series together. I generally asked the subjects to remain expressionless. This, along with the consistency in framing, helps tie the photographs together.
My postprocessing work is evenly split over Adobe Lightroom (for the cataloguing, selection and conversion to B&W) and Photoshop (for the actual Layer-based editing). For me, working on Photoshop is only the digital equivalent of traditional darkroom techniques. I always try to pull out more from any image—more detail, more contrast and more tones.
I think this series will become more intriguing once it gets older. I hope someday, future generations of photography enthusiasts will be able to view these portraits with the same curiosity that I have had when looking at works of photographers of the past.

With high contrast B&W processing, I try to ensure that the detail and textures of the hair do not get lost. Photograph/Kelly Castro

With high contrast B&W processing, I try to ensure that the detail and textures of the hair do not get lost. Photograph/Kelly Castro

My Equipment: I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Ricoh GR Digital III. The detail produced by the high resolution files of the 5D Mark II is useful for work of this nature.

While Working on a Series

  • Link Your Images Together: Use common threads like similar subjects, style of composition, choice of colour or the lack of it to give your images the feeling that they belong together in a series.
  • Create Subsets: When working on a large series like this, try breaking it down into smaller subsets. These should be viewable as a series on their own and yet flow well with the overall body of work.
  • Share Your Work Online: Uploading photographs on sites like Flickr, 500px and so on, will get you necessary feedback as well as provide you with an understanding of what viewers are drawn to and what they find aesthetically pleasing.

To view more images from this series and Kelly Castro’s other work, log on to http://www.kelco.us/

 

Tags: black and white, December 2011, Gritty, Kelly Castro, On Assignment, photoshop, portrait