Face: New perspectives in photographic portrait

24th June, 2016

Face: new perspectives in photographic portrait. William A Ewing, Thames and Hudson, 2004

I like this book because it is was a ‘shock’ to my system. I have always been interested in abstract art and motion blur and am not sure how I can use this in my portraiture, although I am having a go with something more abstract in Exercise 1 which is about my inner square mile.


Introduction – Pre-Face

  1. Page 17. The photograph acts as a mirror to the person

“Page 19 The notion that man possesses, in addition to a physical self, a symbolic self is widespread, perhaps universal… A mirror corroborates this. I reveal the symbolic self outside the physical self. The symbolic self is suddenly explicit, public, and vulnerable. Man’s initial response to this is always traumatic”

  1. Page 24 This notion that the photograph can show the inner person in the New Vision about photography. They are often staged and inauthentic. “Stop asking us for the inner being/essence/soul he pleaded: ‘The surface is all you’ve got”
  2. Are the images in the book that follows ones that “restore some of the old magic to the mirror?” We will see.

Chapter 1: Gaze

Looking up and down – facing reality. These images are often unguarded or where the client is disarmed and their persona falls – is this fair?

Page 46-7 – Andree Chaluleau – variations of the person – Jorge Molders intense personal portraits. P 63 the photographer becoming the subject – the tables are turned. Page 68-9 – photographing only a post of the face has impact – Douglas Gordon – his look is threatening.

Chapter 2: Looks

I have decided not to make more notes at this time. There are so many interesting ideas about presenting portraits and I am going to pick up some of these in my exercises.

My summary so far would be – can we really show what is within but maybe experimental ways of doing this can help us and me?


W, E. (2006). Face: The New Photographic Portrait. London, Thames and Hudson.