Skip to main content

The Humble Family - theprintspace speaks to Pat Pope

7 years ago

This week on theprintspace’s guest post, Harry Rose speaks to portrait photographer Pat Pope about his different take on family portraiture with the project ‘Alt. Portraits’.


Hey Pat, firstly, introduce yourself. How did you get involved with photography?

My name’s Pat Pope. I went to college in the 90’s and did an degree in art photography. It wasn’t really the right course for me as I always knew I wanted to shoot portraits. But it was three years of free darkrooms and studios (it was free in those days). 

You’ve got an interesting backlog of well-known faces you’ve worked with. But I want to focus on is your family portrait series ‘Alt. Portraits’. How did this idea come about?

The ‘Alt. Portrait’ was really a reaction to what was available to “normal” families in the high street. Just your generic white backgrounds and happy, smiley falseness. I hate all that and wanted a different kind of falseness. Treating the humble family in the same way as film and pop stars.


Has your relationship with family portraiture been different to others? 

I have never had any kind of relationship with family portraits until recently. But I just thought about it and decided it was an area that had not really been overhauled in 50 years. I wanted to take it back to the formality of the Victorian era where people had to sit still as the exposure was so long, (you hardly ever see kids or pets in these) except with a modern take.

Backlighting is a technique you use a lot within this project, why did you choose this set up over others? 

I like to bring a bit of glamour and dynamism to these shots. It all adds to the surreal nature and sense of drama to the finished product.


How often do you break away from commercial work to invest time in projects like ‘Alt. Portraits’?

Well, they are becoming more popular and I’m always open to a commission… so quite a lot these days! 

What’s next for you, any projects you can let us know you’re working on?

I am doing a project on vicars in their churches. I have no religious leanings but am fascinated by there look and place of work.