PBS’s ‘Off Book: The Art of Portrait Photography’

What draws us to portraits? In this video from PBS’s ‘Off Book,’ photographers Matt Hoyle, Bex Finch,Jamie Diamond and Ethan Levitas offer their perspective on portraiture and why it is important to us as human beings. At the core of portrait photography, it is a documention of our existence, but it often surpasses that and becomes art.

We have depicted people for thousands of years, from the pharaohs to the Greeks and Romans to what we now see in present day. In early portraiture, it was often a symbol of status and wealth. Simply by having a portrait made, one was making that statement. When photography came around, the portraits were no longer made as a representation of the subject – they were the reality of the subject. It existed that way for many years, until it moved into photojournalism during the Civil War. In the years that followed the war, people began to use portraits as a means of artistic expression,and the evolution of that approach is what we see today.

What do you think? Who are some of your favorite portrait photographers?



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