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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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Hunter & Gatti, Le Fauteuil de l'oubli, Photography

Hunter & Gatti

Le Fauteuil de l'oubli, 2020
29.9 x 24 x 0.1 inch


Ifig, Rose, the pink panther, Photography


Rose, the pink panther, 2021
23.6 x 23.6 inch


David Law, Platine, Photography

David Law

Platine, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.2 inch


Monika Nowak, Who's That Guy, Photography

Monika Nowak

Who's That Guy, 2015
55.1 x 27.6 x 0.8 inch


Grzegorz Sikorski, Need a ride?, Photography

Grzegorz Sikorski

Need a ride?, 2018
19.7 x 26.2 x 0 inch

$204 $227

Anthony Horth, Blue Wings, Photography

Anthony Horth

Blue Wings, 2017
24 x 20 x 0.2 inch


Jean-Michel Voge, Fanny Ardant, Photography

Jean-Michel Voge

Fanny Ardant, 1990
24 x 17 inch


Alexander Benz, Look Look, Photography

Alexander Benz

Look Look, 2021
31.5 x 31.5 x 0 inch


Fei Wang, Si, Photography

Fei Wang

Si, 2021
23.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch


Edouard Partoes, Souvenir, Photography

Edouard Partoes

Souvenir, 2017
23.6 x 15.7 inch


Mercedes Cosano, Méduses 14, Photography

Mercedes Cosano

Méduses 14, 2019
15.7 x 15.7 inch


William Helburn, Greenwich Village, Photography

William Helburn

Greenwich Village, 1958
54 x 44 inch


Fudgie Kaye, Eternel Retour, Photography

Fudgie Kaye

Eternel Retour, 2021
16.1 x 18.9 x 0.1 inch


Bert Stern, Marilyn Monroe: The Last Sitting Portfolio 4, Photography

Bert Stern

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Sitting Portfolio 4, 1962
24 x 24 inch


Derrick Ofosu Boateng, Untilted, Photography

Derrick Ofosu Boateng

Untilted, 2021
15.7 x 11.8 inch


Bernard Pras, Inventaire 100 - Cat Carnaval, Photography

Bernard Pras

Inventaire 100 - Cat Carnaval, 2010
63 x 47.2 inch


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

Hassan Hajjaj

V.B.F., 2011
28.3 x 18.9 x 0.4 inch


Man Ray, Untitled Portrait of Female, Photography

Man Ray

Untitled Portrait of Female, 1940
10.13 x 10.25 inch


Zakari Babel, Épreuve 8, Photography

Zakari Babel

Épreuve 8, 2015
9.4 x 14.2 x 0.2 inch


John Kenny, Merayun, Photography

John Kenny

Merayun, 2019
26.4 x 17.7 x 0.8 inch


Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
19.7 x 15.7 inch


Our recommendations Lucien Clergue, Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, Photography

Lucien Clergue

Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, 1962
18 x 22 inch


Nobuyoshi Araki, Sans Titre, Photography

Nobuyoshi Araki

Sans Titre, 2000
4.3 x 3.5 inch


Charlotte Abramow, Rouge sur Blanc, Photography

Charlotte Abramow

Rouge sur Blanc, 2018
3.9 x 5.9 inch


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Attrape cœur, Photography

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Attrape cœur, 2019
27.6 x 39.4 inch


Léa Bon, Lady of Naggaroth 1, Photography

Léa Bon

Lady of Naggaroth 1, 2013
36 x 24 x 0.1 inch


Fabienne Cresens, La montée des eaux, Photography

Fabienne Cresens

La montée des eaux, 2018
39.4 x 39.4 inch


Thandiwe Muriu, Camo 2.0 4415, Photography

Thandiwe Muriu

Camo 2.0 4415, 2018
35.4 x 23.6 x 0.1 inch


Nathalie Roux, Barbiturique, Photography

Nathalie Roux

Barbiturique, 2019
44.9 x 29.9 x 0.8 inch


Ceridwen Raynor, Captured by the Wind, Photography

Ceridwen Raynor

Captured by the Wind, 2019
29.5 x 29.5 inch


Monica Denevan, Anchor, Photography

Monica Denevan

Anchor, 2013
15.7 x 19.7 inch


Our recommendations David Drebin, Photographing herself, Photography

David Drebin

Photographing herself, 2009
19.7 x 25.2 inch


Katarzyna Widmanska, The Hatter, Photography

Katarzyna Widmanska

The Hatter, 2009
23.6 x 15.7 inch


Leni Riefenstahl, Der Sieger (Sieger), Photography

Leni Riefenstahl

Der Sieger (Sieger), 1936
19.62 x 14.75 inch


Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
48 x 29.9 x 1.2 inch


Ka Xiaoxi, Windy Girls, Photography

Ka Xiaoxi

Windy Girls, 2012
15.7 x 23.6 x 0.2 inch


Natasha Zupan, Eternal Recurrence #48, Photography

Natasha Zupan

Eternal Recurrence #48, 2015
14 x 11.5 inch


Christophe Battifero, The Game, Photography

Christophe Battifero

The Game, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.4 inch


Thomas Dellert, Motown Record Store   Detroit  USA, Photography

Thomas Dellert

Motown Record Store Detroit USA, 2016
15.7 x 23.6 x 0.4 inch


Guilherme Licurgo, Blooming Flower I - Desert Flower, Medium Print, Photography

Guilherme Licurgo

Blooming Flower I - Desert Flower, Medium Print, 2014
35 x 23 x 0.1 inch


Mikael Kenta, Coke, Photography

Mikael Kenta

Coke, 2016
41.33 x 27.55 x 0.1 inch


Virginie Soubeiroux, Homeostasis, Photography

Virginie Soubeiroux

Homeostasis, 2017
70.9 x 39.4 inch


Jacques Bosser, Chotto, Photography

Jacques Bosser

Chotto, 2006
11.8 x 11.8 inch


Bruno Timmermans, Bowie +, Photography

Bruno Timmermans

Bowie +, 2011
39.4 x 39.4 inch


Paul Citroen, Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed  in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, Photography

Paul Citroen

Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, 1930
9.32 x 7.07 x 0.1 inch


Rose Hartman, Dianne Brill, Mudd Club, 1980s, Photography

Rose Hartman

Dianne Brill, Mudd Club, 1980s, 2021
36 x 24 x 0.1 inch


Stéphane Veerecken, On the Moon 1 - série femmes en noir, Photography

Stéphane Veerecken

On the Moon 1 - série femmes en noir, 2020
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch


Christopher Makos, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, Photography

Christopher Makos

Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, 1983
15 x 19 inch


Su Yang, A Strange Encounter, Photography

Su Yang

A Strange Encounter, 2017
19.7 x 15.7 x 0.1 inch


John Yuyi, Pay 1, Photography

John Yuyi

Pay 1, 2018
19.7 x 15.7 x 0 inch


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

Yagazie Emezi

When Did A Piece Fall Off #1, 2016
23.4 x 33.1 inch


Larry Clark, Sans titre 3 (Jonathan), Photography

Larry Clark

Sans titre 3 (Jonathan), 2005
9.1 x 6.7 x 0 inch


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

Marta Pinilla

Alégrame esas pascuas / Make this Easter Happy, 2018
11 x 16.9 x 0.8 inch


Zahrin Kahlo, Kelaa, Photography

Zahrin Kahlo

Kelaa, 2015
23.6 x 19.7 x 0.2 inch


Our recommendations Angélique, White Spirit I, Photography


White Spirit I, 2005
19.7 x 15.7 inch


Chris Saunders, Nozinja, Photography

Chris Saunders

Nozinja, 2012
27.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch


Nontsikelelo Veleko, Thabo, Photography

Nontsikelelo Veleko

Thabo, 2004
14.6 x 10.2 x 0.4 inch


Louis Held, Untitled P-93, Photography

Louis Held

Untitled P-93, 1930
4.2 x 6.5 x 0.1 inch


Wylda Bayrón, Bienvenidos, Photography

Wylda Bayrón

Bienvenidos, 2015
15.7 x 23.6 inch


Maripol, Madonna 'Everybody', Photography


Madonna 'Everybody', 1983
24 x 24 inch


Christophe Paucelier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Photography

Christophe Paucelier

Michel Desjoyeaux, 2008
23.6 x 15.7 x 0 inch


Serge  Delaune, Portrait, Photography

Serge Delaune

Portrait, 2008
24.4 x 20.5 x 1.2 inch


Nigentz, La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), Photography


La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), 2019
19.7 x 29.5 x 0.4 inch


Clément Poitrenaud, Luke McAlister, Photography

Clément Poitrenaud

Luke McAlister, 2015
11.8 x 11.8 x 0 inch


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