For assignment 2 I decided to do ‘Heads’ and conducted research into portraiture to get an understanding of the history and practice. I discovered that there is almost constant reworking of concepts behind (traditional) portraiture, challenging, and inspiring in equal measure.
I found an interesting article in the New York Times There’s Less to Portraits Than Meets the Eye, and More (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/magazine/theres-less-to-portraits-than-meets-the-eye-and-more.html) and it makes some very interesting points about the interpretation of portraits and the often held beliefs of people viewing them, their preconceptions and the and ambition of photographers “We tend to interpret portraits as though we were reading something inherent in the person portrayed. We talk about strength and uncertainty; we praise people for their strong jaws and pity them their weak chins. High foreheads are deemed intelligent. We easily link the people’s facial features to the content of their character. This is odd. After all, we no longer believe you can determine someone’s personality by measuring their skull with a pair of calipers. Phrenology has rightly been consigned to the dustbin of history. But physiognomy, the idea that faces carry meanings, still haunts the interpretation of portraiture…The reason for the temptation is obvious: Faces are malleable. A smile is intentional and might indeed indicate happiness, just as a furrowed brow might be proof of a melancholic temperament. But we also know that emotion is fleeting and can be faked. We thus shouldn’t really trust whatever it is a photographic portrait seems to be telling us.“
The article continues “This is not to deny any of the wonder or gratitude you feel before a superb portrait. Sometimes this response is amplified when it’s a portrait of someone not famous”
This got me thinking.
Some great photographers (and series) I found include: