Nina Large Portraiture portfolio


Barbara Peacock and Lizzie Coombes

The idea for my 'Important Places' was inspired by the work of Barbara Peacock and Lizzie Coombes. Peacocks series 'American Bedroom', showed a variety of people in their bedrooms which were captioned using quotes from the people in the photographs about their lives. I liked the concept of photographing people in an intimate, personal environment. I wanted to create something similar where I could use the environment to tell a story as well as the subject themselves. I also liked how the people in the photographs could express themselves further by telling the photographer something about them that you can't see from the photo. Peacocks photographs are well framed and the busy background gives the photograph a more in depth meaning. 'Important Places' was inspired by this as I wanted to create a set of photographs that told their own stories through the location of the photograph alongside the captions of the photographs that explain the photographs meaning. I was also inspired by the style of Commbes' photography. The style of the portraits are well framed and add something extra to the photographs. The use of lighting in the photographs was something I tried to incorporate into my own work. To try and incorporate the style of these two photographers I used a 50mm lens so my final images would show off as much background as possible. Whilst I want the focus of my photograph to be my subjects it is also important for me to show off the location.

Important Places

"Sunderland doesn't really have many places to go so when you find somewhere you really like it kinda becomes a part of you and your life. This is one of those places for me. It's really chill here, there always playing Charlie Chaplin on the tv and the music sheets for wallpaper is cool. I just like being here. Theres nothing particularly important about it, its just special to me." - James Boak
"I found Pop Recs when I was 16, and it instantly became my favourite place. It was chill and artistic and musical, and acted as an escape for all the shit I was dealing with at the time. When I was in the worst places mentally that I've ever been, and struggling with my family issues, Pop Recs almost became my home. I remember fondly working at gigs and getting to talk to people I would have never crossed paths with otherwise. It's eye opening and wonderful to have had that opportunity. I've made some of my most important friendships there, and as much as I'm no longer in touch with those I worked with, I'm eternally thankful for how Pop Recs, and it's people, have shaped me into a more confident and caring woman. I genuinely wouldn't still be here if not for the time and support of Dave and Michael, my co-workers. I can never thank them enough" - Olivia Johnson
"The summer house in my garden is an important place for me, as is the garden in general. It's where I go to smoke, to read, to think. My mother has always been proud of her garden and its the first place I think of when I think of home, especially since I moved abroad. My own little place of reflection." - Isaac Collinson
"I love the beach because it is soothing, and refreshing, and helps when I need to clear my head. Most days I struggle to turn my thoughts off but going to the beach just fixes that. It's always changing - and yet still the same, which is something I can find comfort in when things change in my own life." - Sarah King
"The Winter Gardens Museum in Sunderland is a place I hold very dear to my heart. I have hundreds of fond memories visiting as a child with my grandparents, sparkling multiple curiosities in nature, art and culture which I have carried with me throughout my life." - Tom Large
"The amusements is where my partner and I spend time together frequently. Just to be together and enjoy each other. It's where we met and it's where we can go and it feel like our own place. We spent our first anniversary here, it was accidental but its all unparalleled." - Hollie Mullally
"When I started working at Vesta Tilleys I was just a glass collector. I spent most of my nights running around, cleaning up and moving kegs about. I can remember a lot of my nights being spent in this cellar. I've worked hard for this job and I love being the manager of a pub with so much character and sense of community. I still spend a lot of my nights down in the cellar but its worth it now." - Keiron Rayne
"My family use to own this bar and I lived above it for 18 years. I use to love being younger and coming down into the pub to meet all the oldies, made me feel dead grown up. When I started getting older it was pretty cool telling people I lived above a pub, everyone would want to come round. I made the attic my own little space with my drum kit and a snug corner with pillows and blankets, I would go there to chill out. I miss living here, I never really come back because it's strange for me being back here and not living here. This is the first time I've been back in three years. It''s a shame nobody lives here anymore they just use the flat for storage space now." - Dan Alldis
"This is where I first met my boyfriend, it was a night just like this. Cold, windy but romantic." - Kirsty Lilley
"My and my mam use to come here a lot to hang out and talk. We never really talk about stuff in the house or spend time together because of her job and how much I have to travel around for gigs. Whenever I've been off on tour and I come back she brings me here to ask about how everything went. I guess when I'm missing her or feeling a bit down I come here with her with my friends too, the food is great and it's nice to feel like your in a home outside of home." - Lydia Balaban
"The ski slope is a really important place to me. It's where my love for the sport developed. I like coming back here every now and then, not just to practice but for the nostalgia. It's crazy to think I started off as a little kid on these little slopes and now I get to travel the world skiing. It's such a freeing sport and I'm proud that I started off here." - Ollie Wilson
"I really struggled to think of a place that was really important to me. I guess I picked this place because I spent most of my time here. Theres always somebody here I don't even have to check with my friends because I know no matter what time of day there is always someone here to talk to if I want to get out the house. Some of the best and worst things have happened here and as of recently It's been quite difficult for me to be here. I recently broke up with my boyfriend and this was 'our' place so I didn't really want to come back here but this is where all of my friends always are, I guess forcing myself to come here has helped me get over the relationship." - Holly Thompson

Task 1: A reflection on having my photograph taken.

Although I love photography, I hate having my photograph taken. When a camera is pointed at me and I am told to smile, I stiffen up and become uncomfortable; often leading to some very awkward looking portraits. Even in group photographs I hide myself at the back of the group to avoid being the focus of the photograph as I always criticize and find faults in myself when looking at photographs of myself. Candid photos of myself however, I do not mind as much. If the photographer acts as ‘a fly on the wall’ and I am unaware my photograph is being taken I am often more relaxed and the photograph turns out better as it depicts the real me rather than a frigid, anxious version of myself.

I often struggle knowing what expression to pull, what to do with my hands and where to look when having my photograph taken so when given the task to have my photograph taken in the workshop I was smoking and drinking coffee; this distracted myself from the photographer and allowed me to feel more relaxed, resulting in a more natural, candid photo. I realised that when taking my photographs of Nichole, that she also found it very difficult to place her hands. It took a lot longer to get a photograph that we were both happy with because she had no prop, unlike me, and so a number of the photographs had an awkwardness about them.

I feel that as a someone who dislikes having their photograph taken, when working as a photographer I have to be aware that it can make people feel uncomfortable and to be conscience to help your subject feel more relaxed. In doing this the outcome of the photograph will be something not only I am happy with but that shows the subject as who they really are and is something they are happy to look at. In the words of portraiture photographer Sean Tucker, “it’s a good idea for any photographer to put yourself in the position of the subject regularly.” (Tucker, 2016) I feel that this will also help me to become more comfortable having my own photograph taken if I am to regularly exercise my role in being a subject in a photograph.


Tucker, S. (2016, July 1). Photographing People: The War in every Portrait. You Tube .

Task 2: Autobiography Cover

When in the studio taking photographs, I am more confident behind the camera than in front of it. When I am in front of the camera I feel very self conscience and uneasy. I never know where to look or how to stand. I find it especially strange not being able to see what I look like in the photographs because I can’t then change my face or my pose if I’m unhappy with it; leaving it all up to the photographer is quite scary because everybody wants to look nice in photographs taken of them. I found that looking away from the camera helped a lot and just laughing or talking to others in the studio made me feel more comfortable. I believe that everybody will experience this on some level so once behind the camera, I was conscience of how I felt when being photographed and spoke to my subject and photographed them in a way I thought would make them feel comfortable. When I am behind the camera it can be quite awkward at first when telling somebody you don’t know how to pose or where to stand. I found that the best way to overcome this is to talk to your subject before taking photographs and whilst taking photographs to make them more comfortable and so you both get to know each other better. This way it feels more comfortable telling them how you want them to appear or allowing them to tell you their thoughts.

I chose this specific photograph out of the two photo shoots because It was the one I thought represented me the best. I found that I didn’t like many of the photographs and the ones I did, I was looking away from the camera. When somebody takes my photograph I’ve noticed I often smile with one side of my face, making me dislike photographs where I am looking directly into the camera. This photo however, I am looking away from the camera and my smile was natural, not forced, so it looks a lot better. I prefer candid photographs of myself because they show the real me, this was the photograph I felt embodied both of these qualities.

I chose this text because I feel like it sums up how I feel about being 20. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of the year doing things that either haven’t amounted to much or that I have regretted. I feel like this photograph represents this quite well as I’m laughing, showing that I have not taken being 20 seriously and that I have spent my year joking around.

Task 3: Family and Friends

These photographs were taken at my friends headline gig in Sunderland. A lot of my close friends are in bands, every time my friends play a gig I'll travel back down to my hometown to watch them, the atmosphere is usually great because all my friends go to support it's somewhere we all go to hang out together. This gig in particular was special because it sold out we were all really proud of how well they performed. Lewis, the lead singer, ended up playing the whole set shirtless.

Task 4: Photographing a Stranger

I chose the location for this photoshoot. I bumped into this man at a heavy metal and punk gig in a local pub called 'The Museum Vaults'. He immediately stood out from the crowd and I noticed he was taking photographs of the bands that were playing and asked him for a photograph. He was really happy to have his photograph taken and took some of me in return. We have since been in touch to discuss photographing bands.

Task 5: Photographing Somebody I Consider To Be Different From Myself

Although I don't know this man, I consider him to be very different to me. I would have liked to have shown him with more energy in the photograph - representing him as somebody who is exuberant as he was jumping around and screaming just before the photograph was taken. I did not plan or expect to photograph him, I caught the end of his set at a local gig and managed to take one photograph before his final song ended. I tried to find him after his set to ask for another photograph but I couldn't find him - I assume he took of his mask and blended back into the crowd.

Task 6: Self Portraiture

The Necklace

This is a portrait of me putting on a necklace that is very precious to me. The necklace was given to me by my nan when my family was going through a difficult time. Her buying me the necklace was her way of saying everything will be ok and she loves me no matter what. It became quite symbolic of my nans strength and love and I always wear it when I'm around her to show how grateful I am for everything she does.


I found the process of completing this portfolio challenging. A lot of the photo shoots I had planned I was unable to do due to people cancelling, or the location becoming unavailable. Prior to starting my portfolio, I planned out photo shoots in advance. I had spoken with people about their location choice and scheduled time slots in which I would spend half a day with one person working on the photographs. However, halfway through completing my photographs I had difficulty sticking to the schedule. A lot of people cancelled on me and so I had to then try to find alternative subjects. This resulted in me having to carry out last minute photo shoots meaning I did not have the amount of time I would have liked to spend on each photograph. Some of the photographs in my portfolio I did not want to do as the location was not the best but with my planned photo-shoots being cancelled I had to replace these quickly. I also struggled to carry out last minute photo shoots as I had problems with my camera equipment which lowered the quality of some of my photographs slightly. Under the circumstances though I believe I handled the workload well and was able to execute my photo shoots regardless.

Many of the people I was photographing chose locations that were impractical to photograph due to weather, time of day and them being generally boring backgrounds to photograph. I feel that some of my photographs are very strong and fulfilled what I set out to achieve however, in some photographs the location is quite boring and I found it very difficult to capture it in a way that made it look more interesting. I ideally wanted locations where I could move around objects to fill the frame the way I wanted. In most locations I was unable to do this and so my photographs are not framed as well as I would have liked. However, I feel that together the outcome of my portfolio as a whole is good, the captions are direct quotes from my subjects and really add to the photographs – giving them more depth and meaning. I spent time with my subjects discussing why the location was important to them before meeting them and whilst photographing them. In some cases, my subjects had written out their caption for me to use prior to the photo shoot and in other cases we worked together to write down what they wanted to say.

Although I enjoyed capturing my portfolio photographs and my weekly tasks I found the autobiography cover and the self portrait tasks very challenging. As mentioned in my first weekly task, I dislike having my photograph taken and so I struggled to get a self portrait of myself that I didn’t hate. It was also challenging to photograph to a specific brief whilst still thinking about creativity and how to make the photographs interesting. I found that I re did some of my weekly tasks a few times because I felt I could be more creative in my subjects and my outcome.

Overall I am relatively happy with my portfolio. I would have liked to have improved upon some photographs but I feel I worked well to overcome the various issues I was faced with during the process. I believe my idea ‘Important Places’ was good as I enjoy capturing photographs with meaning and a story behind them. I also prefer to photograph people out in everyday places rather than a studio as I feel there is more creative flexibility. There is a wide range of photographs in my portfolio and they are all quite diverse which strengthens my portfolio. If I could make any improvements to my work it would be to be more prepared for obstacles I might face in the process and perhaps be more selective with who I photograph and where. Although the locations were chosen by the subjects I feel some of the photographs were let down by their location and I was restricted in what I could do. If I were given the chance to improve I would only photograph locations that are more ‘cluttered’ and interesting so I could fill the frame more creatively.