Great portraits often tell the viewer a great deal about the subject. What if you want to tell something new through your portrait photography? Conceptual portraits will serve as your gateway to communicating different stories, ideas and visual styles.
Today’s inspiration comes from the work of London-based Chris Clor, who combines his photography and CGI skills to explore humor through conceptual portraits.
As an award-winning photographer, illustrator and visual communicator, conceptual photography is one of the pillars of his career. He combines analog and digital techniques to bring his imaginative and evocative style to life. Among the outstanding examples of the wit he brings to his storytelling are his humorous conceptual portraits.
Crafting humor through clever concepts
A quick peek at Clor’s work will likely lead you to a number of clever conceptual projects, three of which I think particularly stand out.
“Disciples” is a hilarious portrayal of Jesus Christ and his disciples making sense of life in the modern era. “The Man in Black” is a spoof of Johnny Cash portraits, re-imagining Darth Vader as the famed American singer, musician and actor. “Storm Trooper’s Day Off” is a playful imagining of how the iconic Star Wars character might spend their time off from work.
I love the way humor is integrated into each of the stories to tickle our imagination and change the way we see familiar themes and characters. At the heart of each portrait is a concept that brings to life the wit and narratives that are unique to Clor, which I’m sure is inspiring for any creative looking for fresh ideas.
My only complaint? I wish there were more photos in these series!
Unique storytelling techniques for portraiture
A lot of us probably think of portrait photography as a straightforward craft, or typically associate it with headshots and fashion editorials. However, conceptual approaches in Clor’s show us some fascinating and unique storytelling possibilities that we can bring to the genre. I think these projects show us how we can make portraiture more engaging and fun, not only for the viewers but also for us photographers as well.
While there are some CGI involved in these conceptual portraits, I’m sure we can all try adding a bit of humor to our projects even without it. If Clor’s work inspired you to try something new with your portraits, start with something simple or familiar, come up with an initial concept or story and see what elements you can tweak to incorporate some comedy into it. The results may delight and surprise you!
All photos by Chris Clor. Used with Creative Commons permission.