The main purpose of a portrait is to tell a person’s story. A portrait is also about the photographer, as it shows his/her interpretation, how the photographer sees the subject of the image. In fact a portrait shows how you see people, and shows what a person looks like as well. But portraiture has also the power to capture an idea of a person or what the person stand for. In the same way a portrait can also show how a person want to be seen and capture particular mood and feelings showing what the subject is experiencing. This can be shown trough light, shadow, colors, backgrounds, gestures, facial expressions and more.
Is photography the truth or not?
To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge – and, therefore, like power. A now notorious first fall into alienation, habituating people to abstract the world into printed words, is supposed to have engendered that surplus of Faustian energy and psychic damage needed to build modern, inorganic societies. But print seems a less treacherous form of leaching out the world, of turning into a mental object, than photographic images, which now provide most of the knowledge people have about the look of the passband the reach of the present. What is written about a person or an event is frankly an interpretation, as are handmade visual statements, like paintings and drawings. Photographer images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.Susan Sontag, On Photography.
Even if it seems that the camera indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, we can say that photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are. In fact the photographer decide how a picture should look, what little frame of the world in front of the lens he want capture in the photograph, which moment of the time flowing he want to freeze in the image, which one of all the infinite possible is the right exposure for the image and how to capture the subject of the photograph.
When you are making a portrait your intention, as a photographer, is to capture and show the essence of your subject. But you can show only your interpretation of the essence of the subject of the photograph. In fact photography is the expression of the way the photographer is seeing the reality in front of the camera. A moment captured just freezing a grain of sand in the time flowing.
All the photographs are accurate, none of them is truth.Richard Avedon
This is the reason why a photographer is essentially a storyteller, and photography like written words is just an interpretation of the reality. A photograph tell to the viewer how his/her author sees the world, how he/she feels in that moment the photograph was captured.
Through photography you have the opportunity and the task to express your emotions and feelings to make meaningful portraits that can inspire others.
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Portrait Photography and Identity.
Through photography you express your identity. But what is identity? Your identity is not only your name, what you look like but everything about you: your favorite books, the music you listen, your political viewpoints, your family, the way you see the world, your personal history.
Photography is an amazing way to express your identity. And photography can be meaningful especially when you use it to express your identity.
The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.Leonardo Da Vinci
In other words you should not just capture what you see, reflecting just the world like a mirror does. The most important thing about photography is that you try to express how does it feel what you are looking trough the viewfinder. As a photographer try to be thoughtful, outgoing and compassionate with your subject and with the world in front of your lens.
We can say that making a portrait you are trying to express two different identity: the identity of the subject of the image and your identity as an artist.
About your subject you should always keep in mind that a good photographer always try to show the person behind the mask. And expressing your identity as an artist you can produce photographs emotionally impactful.
Portrait Photography and memory.
A photograph is information about past light we can perceive in present time. For this reason you can understand there is a connection between photography and memory. Memories of our experience connect each other and they are essentially who we are as individuals.
Our autobiographical memory is what happened, where it happened, and when it happened. And these are the same informations we can find looking to a photograph. A photograph usually answer these information about what, where, when.
When you look at a photograph it can activate memory recall, so portrait photography can be used as memory storage as well.