How Photography Has Evolved Over the Ages & Why Portrait Photography is Still Relevant?

Photography has passed many stages and has evolved over the ages to reach its present form. Present day photography cannot be defined merely as a point and shoot action because photography as an art has extended its dimension to reach new heights. If we go back to the primitive age, we will be amazed to see cave drawings that were the proof of the earliest pictorial creations by humans.

Many years later, before the invention of camera, painters of great fame left their pictorial masterpieces, which were treated as the reflection of their time. It was not until 19th century that camera was invented and photography became the alternative craze. From the point of its inception, photography has experienced sea of changes and has reached its present status. The modern age photography is no longer just an art form.

Portrait photography and its relevance in the present age

If we turn the pages of history, we will find that portraiture was a common practice among wealthy and rich people. Many eminent and notable international figures from the past have found their place in the frames of a portrait. Portrait photography has been beautifully described by Jean Luc Godard in his memorable quote “When you photograph a face……… photograph a soul behind it.”

Although photography as an art form has produced different creative representations and adopted new kind of experimentation, portraiture remains a favourite with photographers due to its emphasis on the facial expression of an individual. The most striking and wonderful aspect of portrait photography is that it can be treated as a tribute, homage or framing of the mind and character of a person as perceived from the expression of the eyes.

It is not to be mistaken that the term portrait only refers to “facial expression”. The relevance of portraiture lies in defining character through faces, events, action – as such it becomes obvious that if an artist is able to give a ‘face’ to a City scene we can as well call it portraiture photography.

Works of Henry Cartier Bresson ideally represents the vision of an artist that seeks to bring out the soul of a city through a series of portraits – the street life, the elite society, the burdens of mediocrity – all photographs depicting the character of a city and its livelihood.

Infact portrait photography is one of the most indispensable mediums through which we connect to our past. It’s a reminder of who we are and where from we have come; how society has evolved speedily and where we are headed to.

I quite consent to what Peter Bunnell had said about portrait photography –

“There is no single form or style of portraiture. Portraiture means individualism and as such means diversity, self-expression, private point of view. The most successful images seem to be those which exist on several planes at once and which reflect the fantasy and understanding of many.”


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