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Portrait Photography

In the 1830s, Nièpce discovered the process for setting images onto pewter plates. In 1833, upon Nièpce’s death, Louis Daguerre and François Arago continued his experiments and invented the daguerreotype, a process which created a printed image on a silver plate that had been exposed to light. Photography was born.

Similarly to how portrait painting had dominated artistic output in previous centuries, portrait photography was to become the pillar of the Second French Empire’s photographic industry. Lenses with a shorter focal length, which enabled reduced exposure times, gradually appear on the market. The required equipment was expensive and difficult to handle. Some photographers, called daguerreotypists, decided to open their own photography studios to make a profit from their endeavours. The daguerreotype process was temperamental, and photographers had to take their pictures with great precision and attention to detail. They welcomed many people into their studios and customers choose how they wished to be photographed from catalogue of poses. Originally only accessible to the bourgeoisie, lower prices resulting from the growing number of studios eventually attracted a wider customer base. This phenomenon infuriated the poet Charles Baudelaire who was frustrated by the sense of narcissism sparked by the daguerreotypists.

Despite his protests, the egotistical trend only grew with the emergence of ‘carte de visite’ portraits (small photographs, the size of today’s business cards). These were the brainchild of Adolphe Eugène Disdéri came up with the idea of producing portraits akin to visiting cards in 1859. He printed eight portraits in a variety of poses onto a single plate and once developed they could be cut up into eight distinct “visiting cards”. Very popular with the bourgeoisie, they highlighted the sitters’ social status. ‘Carte de visite’ portraits featuring celebrities were also sold to customers, who could subsequently add them to their albums.

The photographer Nadar was one of the first to demonstrate a conscious artistic approach to producing these portraits. He emphasised facial expressions and ensured the sitter was comfortable and at ease before taking the photograph. He photographed the era’s greatest thinkers and artists, including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and Victor Hugo. He even managed to reconcile Baudelaire with portraiture.

At the end of the 19th century, the art of photography started to enter the mainstream, with the arrival of the Kodak company. The use of the camera, and the taking of portraits, became everyday occurrences. A century later, it was the invention of the digital camera which challenged the status quo. Whereas before alterations could only be made to photographs when they were being taken or developed, with the digital camera editing became easier, quicker and more convenient. Digital photography has given photographers much more freedom when it comes to editing and new methods and techniques are constantly being explored.

Some of the photographers who have left their mark on the last century include: Cindy Sherman, who excelled in self-portraits, Annie Leibovitz, who captured celebrities, the wacky duo, Pierre and Gilles, as well as Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and Bettina Rheims.

So, do portraits help us to learn more about each other, to remember, to invent, to act, or to reconnect with ourselves? Find out on Artsper, by exploring the works of Formento & Formento, Naomi Vona, Ahmed Bennani, Chou Ching Hui, Samuel Cueto, Brno del Zou, Ren Hang, Markus + Indrani, Jerome Liebling as well as Annina Roescheisen.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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Stefanie Schneider, Pasolini (Immaculate Springs) starring Jacinda Barrett, based on a Polaroid, Photography

Stefanie Schneider

Pasolini (Immaculate Springs) starring Jacinda Barrett, based on a Polaroid, 1998
57 x 56 x 0.1 cm

$2,275 $2,844

Andreas Sundgren, The Queen, Photography

Andreas Sundgren

The Queen, 2020
140 x 105 x 0.1 cm


Dasha Pears, Pas De Deux – The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky, Photography

Dasha Pears

Pas De Deux – The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky, 2019
50 x 50 x 0.1 cm


Baptiste Tavernier, Pompei, Photography

Baptiste Tavernier

Pompei, 2021
16.4 x 14.4 x 2.6 cm


Van de Camp & Heesterbeek, 2050-9, Photography

Van de Camp & Heesterbeek

2050-9, 2019
100 x 100 x 1 cm


Hunter & Gatti, Untitled I (Intervened by the artist), Photography

Hunter & Gatti

Untitled I (Intervened by the artist), 2015
47 x 31.8 x 0.3 cm


Jean-Pierre Duvergé, Ethiopie sud: enfants mursi., Photography

Jean-Pierre Duvergé

Ethiopie sud: enfants mursi., 2018
40 x 50 x 1 cm


David Drebin-USA, Swept Away, Photography

David Drebin-USA

Swept Away, 2018
150 x 100 x 5 cm


Faie Davis, Mahumbi girl with ungava hairstyle variation. Humbi. Angola, Photography

Faie Davis

Mahumbi girl with ungava hairstyle variation. Humbi. Angola, 2019
61 x 58.5 x 26 cm


Axel Crieger GE, Amazing Grace, Photography

Axel Crieger GE

Amazing Grace, 2020
120 x 160 x 1 cm


Araquém Alcântara, Brasileiros, Child with pan, Photography

Araquém Alcântara

Brasileiros, Child with pan, 2004
40 x 60 x 1 cm


Isabelle van Zeijl, She is Here, Photography

Isabelle van Zeijl

She is Here, 2019
113 x 102.9 x 5.1 cm


Corentin Fohlen, Karnaval #01, Photography

Corentin Fohlen

Karnaval #01, 2016
80 x 53 cm


Bernard Pras, 236. Clint, Photography

Bernard Pras

236. Clint, 2021
90 x 90 x 3 cm


Our recommendations Hassan Hajjaj, V.B.F., Photography

Hassan Hajjaj

V.B.F., 2011
72 x 48 x 1 cm


Thandiwe Muriu, Camo 2.0 3953, Photography

Thandiwe Muriu

Camo 2.0 3953, 2015
90 x 60 x 0.3 cm


Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
27 x 21 x 0.2 cm


Our recommendations Feng Kaixuan, Don de soi 5, Photography

Feng Kaixuan

Don de soi 5, 2015
60 x 90 x 1 cm

$4,563 $5,070

Ghost Art, Scarface, Photography

Ghost Art

Scarface, 2019
100 x 100 x 1 cm


Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
50 x 40 cm


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Attrape cœur, Photography

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Attrape cœur, 2019
70 x 100 cm


Monika Nowak, Crazy Stacy, Photography

Monika Nowak

Crazy Stacy, 2017
80 x 80 x 3 cm


Zakari Babel, Épreuve 8, Photography

Zakari Babel

Épreuve 8, 2015
24 x 36 x 0.5 cm


Our recommendations David Drebin, Photographing herself, Photography

David Drebin

Photographing herself, 2009
50 x 64 cm


Jacques Bosser, Calintz, Photography

Jacques Bosser

Calintz, 2009
80 x 65 x 3 cm


Robert Longo, A Single Frame, Photography

Robert Longo

A Single Frame, 1995
20.5 x 25.5 x 0.2 cm


Ka Xiaoxi, Windy Girls, Photography

Ka Xiaoxi

Windy Girls, 2012
40 x 60 x 0.4 cm


Charlotte Abramow, Find Your Clitoris II, Photography

Charlotte Abramow

Find Your Clitoris II, 2017
60 x 46.5 cm


Louis Oke-Agbo, Sans titre 1, Photography

Louis Oke-Agbo

Sans titre 1, 2018
30 x 40 x 0.2 cm


Bruno Timmermans, Bowie +, Photography

Bruno Timmermans

Bowie +, 2011
100 x 100 cm


Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
20 x 30 x 2 cm


Ebuka Michael, Bad Habits - Greed, Photography

Ebuka Michael

Bad Habits - Greed, 2019
40 x 30 x 0.2 cm


Virginie Soubeiroux, Homeostasis, Photography

Virginie Soubeiroux

Homeostasis, 2017
180 x 100 cm


Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
122 x 76 x 3 cm


Léo  Caillard, Hipster in Stone I, Aristeus, Photography

Léo Caillard

Hipster in Stone I, Aristeus, 2013
150 x 100 cm


Zahrin Kahlo, Kelaa, Photography

Zahrin Kahlo

Kelaa, 2015
60 x 50 x 0.5 cm


Bruno Fournier, femme masquée II, Photography

Bruno Fournier

femme masquée II, 2008
80 x 80 x 1 cm


John Yuyi, Pay 3, Photography

John Yuyi

Pay 3, 2018
90 x 60 x 0.4 cm


Tomaas, Vegan beauty, Photography


Vegan beauty, 2014
60 x 51 cm


Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

Un’isola nell’aria, 1975
50 x 60 x 0.1 cm


Alexis Berg, Kilian, Photography

Alexis Berg

Kilian, 2016
30 x 30 cm


Delphine Diallo, Warrior Bloodline, Photography

Delphine Diallo

Warrior Bloodline, 2018
70 x 50 x 2 cm


Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
125 x 85 cm


Yions Schwenke, Setting, Photography

Yions Schwenke

Setting, 2015
120 x 80 x 2 cm


Jurgen Schadeberg, Botswana Beer Festival, Photography

Jurgen Schadeberg

Botswana Beer Festival, 1973
47 x 60 cm


Su Yang, A Strange Encounter, Photography

Su Yang

A Strange Encounter, 2017
50 x 40 x 0.3 cm


Our recommendations Pierre Schwartz, Victoire Montmorency, Photography

Pierre Schwartz

Victoire Montmorency, 2010
80 x 80 cm


Shen Yongji, Eventually Unified to the Original, Photography

Shen Yongji

Eventually Unified to the Original, 2015
90 x 110 x 1 cm

$2,671 $2,968

Marta Pinilla, Alégrame esas pascuas /  Make this Easter Happy, Photography

Marta Pinilla

Alégrame esas pascuas / Make this Easter Happy, 2018
27.9 x 42.9 x 2 cm


Claudio Abate, Untitled, Photography

Claudio Abate

Untitled, 1989
40 x 29 x 0.01 cm


Christophe Paucelier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Photography

Christophe Paucelier

Michel Desjoyeaux, 2008
60 x 40 x 0.1 cm


Daniele Sigalot, Self portrait on the gulf on Naples, Photography

Daniele Sigalot

Self portrait on the gulf on Naples, 2019
60 x 90 cm


Songlin Ji, Manger la montagne no.1, Photography

Songlin Ji

Manger la montagne no.1, 2020
50 x 70 x 1 cm


Nicolas Demeersman, Le Chaman - Nazca Line, Pérou, Photography

Nicolas Demeersman

Le Chaman - Nazca Line, Pérou, 2011
100 x 100 cm


Roger Moukarzel, Covered head, Photography

Roger Moukarzel

Covered head, 2013
80 x 70 cm


Nigentz, La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), Photography


La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), 2019
50 x 75 x 1 cm


Elvira Carrasco, Raspberry 2/7, Photography

Elvira Carrasco

Raspberry 2/7, 2017
135 x 100 x 4 cm


Philippe Echaroux, Elza Surui, Photography

Philippe Echaroux

Elza Surui, 2016
100 x 150 x 3 cm


Vincent Carpentier, Lutteurs#1 (LK), Photography

Vincent Carpentier

Lutteurs#1 (LK), 2019
90 x 90 x 2.5 cm


Laetitia Lesaffre, De-Sol-Es, enfance exilée n°1, Photography

Laetitia Lesaffre

De-Sol-Es, enfance exilée n°1, 2017
50 x 50 x 4 cm


Yagazie Emezi, When Did A Piece Fall Off #1, Photography

Yagazie Emezi

When Did A Piece Fall Off #1, 2016
59.4 x 84.1 cm


Maud Bernos, Bertrand de Broc, Photography

Maud Bernos

Bertrand de Broc, 2013
80 x 80 x 5 cm


Hans Silvester, Série Bench, Photography

Hans Silvester

Série Bench, 2017
59 x 90 cm


Clément Poitrenaud, Luke McAlister, Photography

Clément Poitrenaud

Luke McAlister, 2015
30 x 30 x 0.1 cm


60 Artworks on 4592

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