Human expression in photography through my eyes.

Christopher Whytal received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1998 from Radford University, with concentrations in graphic design and photography. It was there that he discovered his passion for black and white and experimental photography using a variety of different formats and mediums. An avid traveler and a proud father of two, he continues to shoot both digitally and on film to this day. 

Contact Info

Instagram: @christopherwhytal
Email: chris@whytal.com

For my light painting photography, I step out and do something that is often not done: I bring parts of myself into the photograph. My intent is to show the action behind the creation of the photo, the photographer at work, along with the finished product. It also completes the scene I am trying to create. I either make the light painting tools myself or obtain them from other great resources, allowing me to push the boundaries of my work.  One of my favorites is Light Painting Brushes: https://lightpaintingbrushes.com

For my black and white photography, the expression is different and it’s a bit more obscure. From a distance, I use subject matter and people to create the scene. To me, human emotion is expressed through the act of doing, body language and movement—the gesture of someone waving down a taxi or the rush of the crowds of people in a city. Each of these gestures projects an expression that is clearly told in the photo or inspired by the imagination.  A lot of my BnW photography is shot using a Holga, a unique medium format camera that shoots 120 film. It gives an artistic and dreamy aspect to the photos you take with unexpected results such as light leaks and obscured edges of the photograph where the center is focused.  An excellent source for camera equipment and a place where you can find the Holga with a quick search is B&H. Go to: https://www.bhphotovideo.com

Recently, I experimented with the blending of my two photography focuses: light painting and black and white. In the self-portrait, included in this issue, I am conveying two different subtle human emotions with the two different styles of photography, one on either side. 

What are some techniques that have helped you capture the emotion you want? I’d like to share 3 tips that have helped me utilize human expression. 

  1. Think about what characteristics of the emotion connect with you and how you can bring that into your work. 
  2. Set the scene of the photograph, whether it be staged with lighting and props or in the moment using composition and available subject matter. 
  3. Capture your ideas in a journal and think of ways to push your work in new directions and further the craft. 

Success in the world of art and expression can be a nebulous and difficult thing to measure. However, if you can capture the feeling you want to convey in the photograph and project that upon the viewer, then that is certainly a rousing success!

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