Charles Baudelaire
[Writer, b. 1821, Paris, d. 1867, Paris.]

 A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound? (1859) 

George Bernard Shaw
[Writer, critic, and dramatist, b. 1856, Dublin, d. 1950, Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England.]

 It is monstrous that custom should force us to display our faces ostentatiously, however worn and wrinkled and mean they may be, whilst carefully concealing all our other parts, however shapely and well preserved. 

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

 Exploitation lies at the root of every great portrait, and all of us know it. Even the simplest picture of another person is ethically complex. 

Siegfried Kracauer
[Media critic and sociologist, b. 1889, Frankfurt, Germany, d. 1966, New York.]

 The photograph annihilates the person. 

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

 Every image is in some way a “portrait,” not in the way that it would reproduce the traits of a person, but in that it pulls and draws (this is the semantic and etymological sense of the word), in that it extracts something, an intimacy, a force. 

Robert Mapplethorpe
[Photographer, b. 1946, Floral Park, Long Island, d. 1989, Boston, Massachusetts.]

 When I’ve exhibited pictures... I’ve tried to juxtapose a flower, then a picture of a cock, then a portrait, so you could see they were the same. 

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. 

Charis Wilson
[Model, b. 1914, San Francisco, d. 2009, Santa Cruz, California.]

 I knew I really didn’t look that good, and that Edward [Weston] had glorified me, but it was a very pleasant thing to be glorified and I couldn’t wait to go back for more. 
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