The Changing Face of Portrait Photography

The Changing Face of Portrait Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital by Shannon Thomas Perich

TR 575 .P463 2011

“Portrait photography has undergone many changes since first coming into vogue in the 1840s.  Through the years the styles, methods, and commercial applications of portraits have varied as widely as their subjects.  In The Changing Face of Portrait Photography, author Shannon Perich selects work from ten photographers represented in the Photographic History Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History not only to explore the fluid history of portrait photography, but also to explain how changes in access and technology have allowed for new expressions of both personal and national identities.

Portraits are taken for many reasons: as sentimental markers with personal significance, as promotions of well-known people, as documents recording a historic moment, as explorations of the subject’s interior emotional life, and even to question the definition of portraiture itself.  The photographers Perich selects – George K. Warren, Julia Margaret Cameron, the Barr & Wright Studio, Gertrude Käsebier, Dorothea Lange, Nickolas Muray, Richard Avedon, Henry Horenstein, Lauren Greenfield, and Robert Weingarten – have all produced works in the same medium, but with widely different intentions.  The results serve to broaden our understanding of the sitters, the makers, and the time in which each photograph was taken.

The Changing Face of Portrait Photography explores the complex and shifting variables that have colored the relationship between subjects and photographers for more than 150 years, giving deeper meaning to an art form that continues to evolve in our digital world.” – publisher description

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