In Praise of the Humble Chair

The humble chair. Where would we be without it? Mostly sitting on the floor I guess! In portrait photography chairs are a useful prop to have around. When someone is sitting they are naturally more relaxed and you can often capture a look or a pose that is very different to what you would have done if your model was standing. Indeed the use of the chair as a means to facilitate, relax and prevent the sitter from moving was a ploy used at the very beginning of photography. Back then it was difficult to take a decent portrait if the model wasn’t sitting due to the long exposure times involved.

I find it useful to use chairs in this way to relax models and over the last year or two have accumulated a number of images where I have done just that.

For a while I worked in a studio that had a battered old leather chair and every time I shot there I got my model to use the chair in any way they saw fit. I found it helped break the ice and relax the model. I wrote a post about it here.

Probably the all time classic use of a chair and model is the famous photograph that the photographer Lewis Morley took in 1963 of Christine Keeler at the height of the revelations regarding the exposure, of the going-ons, of the War Minister and young show girl, caught up in what became known as ‘The Profumo Affair‘. Indeed this chair, supposedly an Arne Jacobsen one (though it was actually a cheap imitation) has even become known as the Christine Keeler chair. I once did my own version of this iconic image which you can see here (warning, NSFW).

More recently I have found chairs in their own right to be interesting subjects for my camera and have started a project around this humble item of furniture. Here are the first few images from this project.


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