A Face in the Crowd

For this week’s photo challenge, try your hand at a different type of portrait.

My interest in photography first sparked when I was a teenager. I carried my precious camera with me everywhere, stopping for a snapshot each time I saw something even mildly interesting. Unfortunately, as a teenager I was also painfully shy and, despite my love of a well-shot portrait, was always too afraid to ask someone if I could take their picture.

When showing a friend my latest roll of film that I had developed, he asked me, “Erica, why do you always have pictures of people from behind?” In my fear of asking to take portraits, I realized I had resorted to including people in the picture — just not their faces.

Looking back over some of these photos recently, I developed a new appreciation for my approach as a young adult. These faceless portraits, as they were, captured a sense of being just one in the crowd. Instead of seeing the unique and defining characteristics of a person’s facial expressions, via an emotive gaze or mild smirk, they became anonymized, mysterious figures with stories impossible to guess.

Create an image that represents being “a face in the crowd.” Explore silhouettes, shadows, orientation, and other ways to mask your subject. As you hide the defining characteristics of your model, notice which traits continue to stand out. Without facial expression, can you tell how someone is feeling? Without color, does your impression of that person change? If portraits aren’t your thing, get even more creative with your use of shadows, reflections, animals, and patterns to represent a sense of anonymity.

Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden. Just as all of us can oscillate between conformity and individualism, allow your photo to do the same.

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    1. Hi there! Welcome 😀 In order to participate in the challenge, you’ll want to publish a post related to the theme each week and add a link to the challenge post in your entry so that it creates a pingback. (More on that here.) Once you do that, your post will show in the comments with the others!

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  1. OMG!! This is absolutely relatable!! I am always being skeptical as to what some stranger is gonna think of me if i ask for portraits. And consequently I end up with candid shots, frames that are not really portraits but what those people really are. Umm… i kinda love those takes as well!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Moving to a different country, not even that, – moving to a different continant can make you faceless. You start litterly from zero. But it isnt as bad as your first thought might be. You have supporters, family , friends, heck even strangers whom make you smile with little things – suport you with little things and be there if you need them. Maybe your face stands out of the crowd. – Go and enjoy this chance and be creative and succesful.



  3. IMHO there’s nothing ordinary about this photo. Everything about it is interesting: composition, angles, shadows (now I see the wall with graffiti!) and things in the distance both to the left and right. The two man-made patterns foreground and nature-made further away … did I mention the angles??? The “doorway” framing everything, except for the path taking us wandering to the left. Not ordinary at all!


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