Contemporary Portrait Photography

“Like most portrait photographers, I aim to record the instant the subject is not thinking about being photographed,” Martin Schoeller has explained. “I’m striving to get beyond the practiced facial performance, reaching for something unplanned.” Whether capturing a spontaneous glance or a carefully-staged pose, contemporary portrait photographers give viewers a glimpse into another person’s life. “Whenever I’m making a portrait,” says LaToya Ruby Frazier, and its subjects are “looking back at me, showing their dignity and pride and humanity, they are a marker on the timeline of history.” Below, discover the latest developments in portrait photography, from Hendrik Kerstens’s old master inspired self-portraits to Deana Lawson’s color photographs of African-American families in their homes.

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