Two surprisingly similar portraits

©Neil Turner/TSL

The great challenge in photography for me is to keep shooting pictures without keeping shooting the same picture. There are thousands of ways of taking a photograph – let’s say that the number is, for argument’s sake, twenty-five thousand. What happens when you have shot two hundred and fifty thousand pictures – have you shot each possible picture ten times? I was looking back through a folder of favourite images today and found two that were taken at a similar point in my career and in a fairly similar location.

So are these two pictures the same, similar or different? It doesn’t matter really what anyone thinks but I really like to see them together. I like to see the similarities and the differences and once you get away from the fact that both are women sitting in a chair in a bay window in London with a quality rug on the floor the differences in the pictures start to matter much, much more. I promise that I haven’t cropped them to match – this is how they were in my folder.

The light comes from the side on both and, knowing the way that I work, that has a lot more to do with eliminating reflections in the glass in a hurry than any creative impulse. The amount of ambient light is higher on the left (yes, that is author Jacqueline Wilson) and the books make the picture feel a lot different to the harder light with less ambient, no books and peeling paint of the left hand portrait of blind sculptor Gohar Kordi.

I love looking at my own work, trying to get ideas for new work from examining old work and I know very well that there will come a time when I do the same (?) shot again and can picture these two frames and what they say in my mind. Next time I will use a longer lens. Next time I will pay even more attention to the symmetry of the composition. I can’t wait…


  1. They really are similar aren’t they. Did you remember the first when shooting the second? It’s no surprise that this happens, you’re drawn to scenarios as a photographer. Whether it be compositional details like ,leading lines (sometimes they’re all I see!), light at a particular time of day, bay windows!… there is always going to be repetition. The more pictures you take I suppose the more self aware and sensitive you become but does that lessen your ability to make instinctive judgements? Previously taken or seen photographs subconsciously inform new photographs but does this limit the aim of being original?
    They’re both great portraits in different ways.


    1. I really don’t remember referencing one when taking the other. There aren’t any “new” pictures out there, just different/better/worse I suppose.


      1. Do you always carry a Persian rug with you as part of your kit? For some reason I would have presented them the other way round, maybe it’s my OCD but it makes more sense to have the lighter side on the outside… I think I need to get out more.


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