Week 3: Portrait Text

Following lecture on portrait photography and with reference to the quotes, texts and videos below and making use of your notes from the lecture, you will need write up to 300 words about what the term portrait means to you. You will need to consider how you are approaching the portrait part of the brief and what your portraits will represent. You should also write about how meaning is created in a portrait and how this may affect the understanding of your work. Think about your ‘gaze’. From what position are you are you viewing your subject? You may wish to refer back to your Abigail Solomon Godeau text from last year. 

Portrait photography is the most exciting subject for me to photograph. A portrait is a representation or depiction of an individual that is of that individual or one that gives strong sense/impression of a specific person.

Communicating and sharing someone’s self, filled with soul and personality, that can be shown clearly through a 2D image which is then saved and shared to the world is the most exciting part about it for me. Sharing and placing importance on a stranger I have met. They open up and talk to me about their life and stories they’ve had. I want to share that to the world, documenting their existence. I want to be taking portraits of the people I encounter from an outsider’s perspective. It also helps that I’m not from Norwich nor associated with any stories I’m looking into with my research. I want to show people the portraits I capture from a disconnected view point, looking into the person in front of me while giving off clues about them, where and how they live, what they do because we’re all unique. I feel that without photographing the people I meet associated with this project, I’m not being able to be empathetic, authentic and realistic when representing them compared to other art forms such as painting. Photographing their faces for me is a way to represent them as people, their lives, what they’re going through or have been going through.

In order to achieve this, it’s important that the photographer and sitter to really connect in this moment of capturing their portrait. This shows through on an image if not achieved which distorts the storytelling within a portrait. It depends upon the gaze I take and the sitter participating. ‘In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.’ (Barthes, 1980). With my interpersonal skills, I’m going to gain knowledge of their lives beforehand, building a relationship so that with the information I know about them, I am able to photograph in a way that will truly represent themselves within the styles of the visual referenced work below.

Spencer Murphy

Alec Soth

Niall Mcdiarmid

Stephen Shore


  • Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. Print.



































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