Powerful Portraits

I am now of the opinion that beauty is actually something beyond symmetry, wide-eyes and white teeth. Another visual realm exists. It could all be nonsense, but I think that our inner being projects itself upon our outer shells.

“Afghan Girl”, 1984. Steve McCurry

I used to paint portraits everyday and I remember vigorously searching for faces that absolutely sucked me into the moment of viewing. I think that sometimes looking at a face can actually make us very conscious, almost to the extent of meditating over the lines of struggle etched on a subject’s face; or the depth of soul held in their eyes.

Art captures and accesses the knowledge that we have of our world that is not expressed in dominant forms of communication.  It expresses the strong metaphysical field which surrounds us. Of all the things we understand intuitively, but rarely express.

I became obsessed Irving Penn at school. His chiaroscuro photographs of thinkers such as Pablo Picasso, Truman Capote and WH Auden are hugely atmospheric. Even long after Penn’s subjects died, you can still sit in the moment they were sat before the camera. I particularly love the photograph of Capote:

“Truman Capote”, by Irving Penn


“Face of a Distressed Woman”, unknown photographer.

One image that really left a mark on me recently was a photograph of a Bangladeshi woman. I stumbled across it through a link, it reminded me of some of the exhausted faces that were typical of the poverty in India. I think that actually seeing vivid images of people and places can really motivate us in our own ways. Here is a little quote for the day:

“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.” Paul Strand

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