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Contemplation: A Narrative Character Portrait by Dasom Chung (2015)

Ethan, a conflicted son of a successful businessman is always being compared to his perfect older brother. He struggles to please his parents and has a hard time finding joy in anything. He then meets a lovely girl that helps him work through his problems, and they fall for each other. They find happiness together and Ethan finally feels the joy of life; his parents oppose this relationship because of the different social class, and set up a partner for him that they believe fits their description of a suitable wife. In my Narrative piece, I've captured the moment of contemplation. Ethan holds the engagement ring, pondering whether or not he should abide by the rules of his family and finally get acceptance from his father, or to betray his family to be with the woman he loves. It is a dreary moment for Ethan; he knows this single decision would determine his future, his relationship with his family members, his wife, his financial situation, as well as every other aspect of his life.

I captured this shot with a particular mood in mind. I used a moderately strong main light with a much softer fill light and back light. This was to emphasize the facial expression of the character and really portray what the character was going through. I used a grey background, in which the neutral color offsets the black suit that Ethan is wearing. The ring represents the source of the character's dilemma, and his hand in his pocket shows the character's reluctance to make the decision. His curly hair is a symbol of his extravagant family background, a wealthy and prim family with not much personal freedom. The photo is taken from slightly above the character looking down, as if we are looking down at the ring, pausing to contemplate the issue together along with the character. There weren't many issues I faced during this particular project, but I wasn't sure if I wanted a white or black dress shirt for the character, either to emphasize the primness of his family, or the dark mood of the situation, respectively. I ended up deciding of the black shirt to emphasize the kind of emotions the character was going through.
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