Reality and the Photographic Portrait

Posted on June 13, 2013


‘Reality and the Photographic Portrait’ is the title of my final essay for my Understanding Visual Culture course (UVC).

This assignment is intended to explore issues surrounding the ‘real’ in contemporary society. I decided to analyse these issues with reference to photographic portraiture. The title of the essay is  also the theme I plan to adopt for my final photography course ‘Photography 3: Your Own Portfolio (YOP)’. I took the opportunity to carry out research which will also have value for my photographic work. It has turned out to be a very useful project giving me lots of ideas to pursue.

Richard Brilliant suggests that a portrait’s success ‘depends on [the artist’s] ability to manifest the peculiarities of appearance and character in a manner that is both accessible and satisfactory to the viewer’. He goes on to suggest that the nature of the artist’s response is affected by three questions: ‘What do I (you, he she, we, or they) look like?’, ‘What am I (you, she, he etc.) like?’ and ‘Who am I (you, etc.)?’. (Brilliant, 2013, Loc 197). I used these questions as a means of organising my analysis for this essay and I am also planning to use it for structuring my photographic investigation for YOP.

The essay can be read here:

Reality and the Photographic Portrait

My tutor’s comments, which add much meat to my bones, can also be read here:

416177. Greenough. 5

So I have now completed UVC, so this leaves me at the moment in a state of being ‘between courses’. It is a very strange feeling to not have deadlines to meet. That said I have been doing a lot of thinking about how and what I will be doing on my final course YOP. I have been taking some of the ideas from my essay and developing concepts for investigating them through my photography….I will be making a few more posts about this over the next few weeks before I formally enrol for YOP.

Brilliant R. (2013) Portraiture (Essays in Art and Culture) [Kindle Edition] London: Reaktion Books