Susan Sontag
[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]

 When one has a picture taken, the photographer says “Perfect!” Just as you are! That is death. 

Walter Benjamin
[Philosopher, critic, and theorist, b. 1892, Berlin, d. 1940, Port Bou, France.]

 It is no accident that the portrait was the focal point of early photography. The cult of remembrance of loved ones, absent or dead, offers a last refuge for the cult value of the picture. For the last time the aura emanates from the early photographs in the fleeting expression of a human face. This is what constitutes their melancholy, incomparable beauty. 

August Sander
[Photographer, b. 1876, Herdorf, Germany, d. 1964, Cologne.]

 I never made a person look bad. They do that themselves. The portrait is your mirror. 

Duane Michals
[Photographer, b. 1932, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, lives in New York.]

 You can never capture a person in picture, never. You might get an interesting expression or gesture. I almost never research a picture subject ahead of time. I think Karsh is full of baloney. Can you imagine spending a whole week out in La Jolla with Jonas Salk soaking up his ambiance, then wind up making him look as if he’s in the studio in Ottawa with his thumb under his chin? 

Sally Mann
[Photographer, b. 1951, Lexington, Virginia, lives in Lexington.]

 If transgression is at the very heart of photographic portraiture, then the ideal outcome—beauty, communion, honesty, empathy—mitigates the offense. 

John Tagg
[Writer, theorist, and photohistorian, b. 1949, North Shields, England, lives in Ithica, New York.]

 A childhood studio portrait, a school photo, a wedding group, a passport photograph, an identity pic, a holiday snapshot: we all have them. You could probably put together a similar selection. But what do such pictures do for us? What uses do they have? Why does it seem natural to have kept them? And how has it come about that, for most people, photography is primarily a means of obtaining pictures of faces they know? 

Luigi Ghirri
[Photographer, b. 1943, Scandiano, Italy, d. 1992, Reggio Emilia, Italy.]

 …a man photographed is always no more than a photograph. 

Joyce Tenneson
[Photographer, b. 1945, Weston, Massachusetts, lives in New York.]

 A true portrait can never hide the inner life of its subject. It is interesting that in our culture we hide and cover the body, yet our faces are naked. Through a person’s face we can potentially see everything—the history and depth of that person’s life as well as their connection to an even deeper universal presence. 
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