General Question

Fallstand's avatar

In your opinion..Does a photograph portrait have to show a person's face?

Asked by Fallstand (1130points) February 20th, 2008

..and instead just part of the subjects body?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

row4food's avatar

a portrait is a representation of a person, and if there is some other object that better represents them there is no problem with using that. i have done several self-portraits, none of which include my face, or any other part of my body for that matter. the images represent what’s inside, rather than outside. the actual definition does say that it includes a face, but what’s wrong with breaking the rules?

gooch's avatar

Yes = No head no portrait

syz's avatar

I guess it depends on whether you’re interested in the strictest definition of the word or in a functional use of the idea.

I’ve seen some very powerful portraits that evoke emotion, memories, and personality traits of the subjects that are much more meaningful to me than a head shot.

ezraglenn's avatar

Absolutely not. As a portrait photographer who basically only does the “typical-portrait-face-thing,” [] I completely think that portraits can be any representation of a person. It is very much up to the artist’s interpretation.

gailcalled's avatar

Check out Richard Avedon’s famous portrait of Andy Warhol;

Dick -Andy

Spargett's avatar

I’ve always felt that the main purpose of a portrait is to capture the spirit of the person. Whether or not that encapsulates thier face is only relevant to the context of the person.

I did a “portrait” of someone who was heavily identified with computers. The photo was essentially the silhouette of their head facing me, eclipsed by the glow of a computer display in a dimply lit environment. I don’t think that would embodied them any better.

But that’s my artistic interpretation. I’m sure the the dude taking passport photos at Walgreens would disagree with me.

vanguardian's avatar

Yes & No. Though there are many variations of a portrait, in the true sense it should depict a persons face. Certain types of shots might not show the face as a whole and could be classified as a form of portrait photography. Then some styles cross that border into a whole different form.

It doesnt really matter unless you are specifically being paid for a certain shoot. Otherwise shoot what you want and forget about labels. Get creative and go for it.

I’ve booked more work off my personal projects than paid work.

susanc's avatar

Thoughtful smart answers.
Here’s a little story. I used to go around to grade schools to show little kids whatever I could about drawing (there were no art teachers; the state sent artists on these tiny gigs). I used to get the most acting-up kid to model for the class, which put him at the center of attention and calmed him down, and then we did life drawing – unusual for kids 7, 8, 9 years old. I wanted them to notice that when we try to draw something, we look at it very closely and see more. Portrait-wise, it was completely consistent that the kids positioned behind the model would complain that they “couldn’t see him” – that is, they couldn’t see his FACE. The FACE was THE PERSON.
But after they persisted in drawing what they COULD see – and they were amazingly good at this – everyone always agreed that drawings of the back of the kid in the middle of the room miraculously DID look like him. They looked like him-from-the-back.
How about that?

Allie's avatar

I’ve seen some really beuatiful portraits of people with only their hands showing. I like it when you can see every detail.
I saw one of an artist who had paint all over his fingers. Gorgeous.

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