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Taylor & Francis
FACES: Photography and the Art of Portraiture

FACES: Photography and the Art of Portraiture

by Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780240811680
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 01/27/2010
Pages: 195
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Steven Biver, Virginia, USA, Commercial photographer, former clients include Adobe, Mobil, Newsweek, Black and Decker
Paul Fuqua, Virginia, USA, started his own audiovisual production company in 1970. Dedicated to teaching through visuals, he has written and produced educational and training material in a variety of fields, including law, science, and nature. His photography takes him all over the world, but he makes his home in Arlington, VA.

Read an Excerpt


By Paul Fuqua Steven Biver

Focal Press

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-095139-3

Chapter One


photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.

—Arnold Newman


This section presents a collection of portraits from the past. They are a very mixed, diverse bunch. Some of these images come from the 1840s—the earliest days of photography. Others were shot as recently as the 1970s.

Acknowledged masters made some of these portraits. Others are the work of obscure photographers whose names are now lost to us forever. Some show persons familiar to us all. Others present the likenesses of those whose identities and accomplishments are long forgotten. Some are amusing; others speak to us of horror and tragedy.

But as mixed a group as this is, despite the variety of the group, the images in it share much in common. Looked at individually, each of these pictures shows us how different photographers— working at different times, with the different techniques and technologies available to them—have gone about the business of recording the likenesses of their fellow humans. Taken as a group, these portraits provide an overview of a particular slice of the human experience.

Bull Chief Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

This portrait of the Apsaroke or Northern Crow—Indian warrior, Bull Chief, was taken by Curtis as part of his effort to record "... the old time Indians, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners."

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C.)

Portrait of Miss K Zaida Ben-Yusuf (1869-1933)

The nineteenth-century gum bichromate process produced extremely delicate and diffuse images. Some, such as this masterful "fine arts" half-length picture of the actress Florence Kahn, look almost as though they had been rendered in paint or pencil. This portrait was made in 1900 by the then widely popular Ben-Yusuf in her fashionable New York City studio.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

John D. Crimmins Standing in Front ff Fish Photographer Unknown

By 1912, when this photograph is thought to have been made, inexpensive and easy-to-use cameras were common enough that informal "snapshot" portraits—such as this fine example of a proud fisherman and his catch—began to be part of many family's albums.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Chicano Teenager in El Paso's second ward. A classic barrio which is slowly giving way to urban renewal. Danny Lyon (1942-)

The worlds of portraiture and photojournalism can, and often do, collide. That is the case with this arresting picture shot in 1972 by the hard-hitting photographer, film maker, journalist, and author Danny Lyon.

But the truth is that it is of absolutely no importance into which stylistic "bin" we choose to toss an image such as this one. The fact remains that no matter how we choose or choose not to "classify" it, it is still a revealing and beautifully executed image of a young man in a world that is changing around him.

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Washington, D.C.)

Abraham Lincoln Alexander Gardner (1821-1882)

Made in February of 1865, this haunting image is thought to be the last photograph taken of Lincoln before his assassination. Sometimes referred to as Lincoln's "cracked-glass portrait," it is one of the most famous American portraits.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Cannibal Tom (80 years old), the last relic of Fiji Cannibalism—Fiji Islands Underwood & Underwood, publisher; Photographer unknown

This somewhat suspect portrait of a purported cannibal named Tom was made around 1905. It is a classic example of the thousands of different "exotic people in far away places" pictures sold by such mass-market publishers as Underwood & Underwood. Stereographic cards such as this one, which produce a three-dimensional look when seen through a special viewer, were particularly popular during the early 1900s.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Gen. U. S. Grant at his Cold Harbor, Virginia, headquarters Edgar Guy Fowx (1821-1870)

This print was made from a broken glass plate (wet collodion) negative. It shows Grant at his headquarters at Cold Harbor, Virginia, in June 1864.

The battle of Cold Harbor was a terrible Union defeat during which Grant's army suffered an estimated 12,000 casualties. In his memoirs, Grant was to write that Cold Harbor was the only attack he wished he had never ordered.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Martin Luther King Press Conference Marion S. Trikosko

The distinguished photojournalist Marion Trikosko took this portrait of Dr. King. It demonstrates beautifully what a waste of time it is to worry about defining the term "portrait" too rigorously.

Some viewers may see this image as an example of photojournalism, or a "news picture"; others as a "portrait." But what difference does it make? The truth is that it is a fine example of both.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The Monti Family Photographer unknown

By the 1920s, no middle-class family was satisfied unless they could display a formal family portrait. This was a picture that not only said who you were but also proclaimed proudly what you were—a portrait that by its very existence made it clear you had "arrived."

As is the case with this fine example taken in 1924 in Luxembourg, many of these "status" portraits were beautifully executed and remain as impressive today as they were when taken.

(Authors' collections)

Wu Ting-Fang, Chinese Minister Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952)

Frances Benjamin Johnston, one of America's earliest female photographers, made this portrait around 1900. Its subject, Wu Ting-Fang, China's highly respected minister to the United States, was noted as a sophisticated and worldly diplomat. These are the qualities that Johnston's carefully posed and propped portrait so perfectly reflects.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Fargo and Doris Caudill, Homesteaders, Pie Town, New Mexico Russell LEE (1903-1986)

This informal portrait of the Caudills is one of the hundreds of often iconic pictures Lee took while working for the Farm Security Administration.

Made in 1940, this image is part of a series Lee shot documenting the hardships small farmers and migrant workers faced during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Laura Bullion, Outlaw National Detective Agency File Photo, 1893; Photographer unknown

Portraiture became an important law enforcement tool in photography's early days. This mug shot, or criminal identification photo, shows the notorious female outlaw Laura Bullion.

Described by one lawman as "cool" and showing "absolutely no fear," Bullion was a member of Butch Cassidy's famed Wild Bunch gang of bank and train robbers.

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Washington, D.C.)

Charles Dalmorès Matzene Studio, Chicago; Photographer unknown

Made around 1916, this urbane and stylish portrait is of Charles Dalmorès, a famous international opera star. Produced in the fashionable Chicago studio of "Count" Jens Matzene, it is a fine example of the carefully posed—with few or any props or scenery—and dramatically lit image that would evolve into what later came to be known as the "Hollywood look."

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

King Farouk of Egypt and his Family Photographer unknown

King Farouk ruled Egypt from 1936 until he was overthrown by a revolution in 1952. This graceful and surprisingly informal portrait shows Farouk with his wife and young son.

It is a fine example of a "person in power" portrait. Such images strive to show both the sitter's human side and his or her authority. Rulers have often used such portraits to help win and maintain their subjects' loyalty.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Urias A. Mcgill Augustus Washington (1820-1875)

New Jersey-born Augustus Washington was one of America's first African-American photographers. In 1853, he immigrated to Liberia. It was there that he made this daguerreotype of Urias McGill, a successful merchant and exporter.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Boe Brothers Adlington Studio, Viroqua, Wisconsin; Photographer unknown

Dressed in their finest clothes with their gold watch chains dangling from their vests for all to see, these two brothers were immortalized in this classically posed and propped carte de visite, or picture calling card, taken around the turn of the twentieth century.

Notice the richly painted baroque background, which was designed to convey a sense of "means"; this scene is typical of the era. So is the ornate pylon against which the brothers lean. Usually sold by the dozen, carte de visites were commonly exchanged among friends and family members.

(Allness family photographs, author's collections)

Tom Kobayashi, Landscape, Manzanar Relocation Center, California Ansel Adams (1902-1984)

Ansel Adams was one of America's greatest photographers. In 1943, he photographed the War Relocation Center at Manzanar, California, and the Japanese-Americans forced to live there during World War II. Shot against a background of cornfield and desert, this disturbing portrait is a stark reminder of the terrible injustice that Manzanar and the other camps like it represent.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Post-Mortem portrait of an unknown baby Photographer unknown

The dead, especially children, were common subjects for early photographers. This gut-wrenching portrait was probably made in a small Wisconsin farm community in the 1890s.

Obviously great care was taken to make the picture as comforting as possible for its viewers—to make it appear that the baby was sleeping quietly rather than the awful truth so faithfully recorded. One can only hope that this sad memento provided some small measure of the consolation it was meant to.

(Allness family photographs, authors' collections)

Henry Ford Hartsook Studio; Fred Hartsook (1876-1930)

This beautifully executed formal portrait of the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, was taken around 1919. Fred Hartsook, the probable photographer, owned several fashionable California portrait studios. He is often credited with helping to establish what later came to be known as the "Hollywood" look.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

American Gothic Gordon Parks (1912-2006)

Made by Gordon Parks in 1942 of a charwoman named Ella Watson, this riveting picture ranks among the twentieth century's most powerful portraits. It is well worth taking the time to compare it to Grant Wood's justly famous 1930 painting of the same name.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Coronet Wilkin, 11th Hussars Rodger Fenton (1819-1869)

This portrait of a British cavalry officer is one of the first pictures made as part of a systematic effort to use photography to document, and—some say to propagandize—a war. Produced using the collodion, or wet plate, process, it was shot by the British artist-turned-photographer Rodger Fenton during the Crimean War (1853-1856).

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Spinners in a Cotton Mill Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940)

Dedicated to social reform, Hine pictured these two young girls working as spinners in a cotton mill in 1911 while documenting child labor abuse for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine's portraits of young children working under often terrible conditions provided a much-needed boost to efforts aimed at passing effective child labor laws in America.

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Washington, D.C.)

On the Freights Rondal Partridge (1917-)

In 1940, Europe was torn by war, a war that Rondal Partridge firmly believed America would soon join. But before that happened, and while he was working for the National Youth Administration, Partridge set out to document the conditions and challenges that America's youth faced at the tail end of the Great Depression.

He shot this disturbing but beautifully executed portrait along the railroad tracks in Yuba County, California. It shows a young drifter who had spent much of his young life "on the freights" traveling from place to place looking for work.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Jack Guth and his Steer Photographer unknown

Since their earliest days, we have used photographs as mementos of both ourselves and of our most prized possessions. Taken in 1920, this wonderful "environmental" portrait proudly records for posterity a Montana cattleman and his truly monumental steer.

(Allness family photographs, authors' collections)

George Kimbrue, Pvt., 93rd Indiana Infantry, U.S.A. Photographer unknown

Like countless thousands of soldiers, Pvt. Kimbrue sat for this tintype portrait in all his warrior finery sometime during the American Civil War.

Tintypes were popular among Civil War soldiers and their families because they were inexpensive, made quickly, and durable enough to be mailed home in letters. These qualities made them the ideal mementos for loved ones to share.

(Courtesy of the Library of congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Starving inmate of Camp Gusen, Austria T4c. Sam Gilbert

Taken in 1945 by an Army photographer immediately after U.S. troops liberated the notoriously brutal Gusen concentration camp, this mind-numbing portrait lives on as an icon for Nazi terror and atrocities.

Like all great portraits, the message so starkly proclaimed by this one is both timeless and universal.

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Washington, D.C.)

Baby in best clothes Photographer unknown

Since the first cameras arrived on the scene, children have been among portraitists' favorite subjects. Dressed in Baptism finery, this cherubic tyke was photographed using the tintype process by an unknown photographer sometime during the 1890s.

(Authors' collections)

A Pioneer Family By Their Wagon Photographer unknown

Cameras followed the wagons during the Great Western Migration. This group portrait of a pioneer family standing by the covered wagon in which they lived and traveled during their search for a homestead is typical of the pictures made by photographers whose names are long lost to us.

This particular image was made in 1886 in the Loup Valley of Nebraska.

(Courtesy of the National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Washington, D.C.)

Guitar Player Photographer unknown

Little is known about this wonderful "a man and his music" portrait. It was probably taken by an itinerant photographer in the 1890s and shows a young man belonging to a Norwegian-American farm family living in Wisconsin.

(Allness family photographs, authors' collections)

Couple on an Outing Photographer unknown

The availability of good-quality, but relatively inexpensive, color film changed photography forever. For the first time in history, color photographs of friends and family were within the reach of a huge and ever-growing segment of the world's population.

This informal portrait from the 1950s of a stylishly dressed couple on an outing is typical of the hundreds of millions of similar color "people-pictures" produced since color film first became widely available.

(Authors' collections)


Excerpted from FACES by Paul Fuqua Steven Biver Copyright © 2010 by Elsevier, Inc. . Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The Opening Gallery

A collection of twelve portraits by six of the most admired contemporary masters of portraiture.


And whom do we appreciate.

Introduction to Book

Opening thoughts about portrait making.


And whom do we appreciate, once again — but differently.

How To Use this Book

The importance of picking your way through the portraits in this book the same way you would through a bowl of delicious fruit.

Portraits From the Past

A collection of thirty-six portraits — some happy, some terrible — made from the beginning of photography through the 1960s.

Making Portraits

A collection of TCL portraits and detailed explanations of how we made them. Most are accompanied by full-perspective diagrams.

Street Shooting

A series of suggestions and tips that have helped us during the many years we've spent making street portraits.

Getting Ready

Suggestions on how to prepare for portrait sessions, both big and small.

Modifying Light

Information about the many devices we use to modify, or control, light while making portraits.

And Finally

Some parting words on what the "art and craft" of portraiture means to us.

Appendix - Some Tools and Techniques

A look at four tips and techniques that we have found helpful — compositing, black and white conversions, reading histograms and working with lighting ratios.

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