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) 

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. 

Larry Fink
[Photographer, b. 1941, Brooklyn, New York, lives in Martins Creek, Pennsylvania.]

 [Photography is] the idea of the transformative merger between you and the person you are seeing, that you somehow try to enter their form, their skin, their mass, their muscle, and potentially, possibly, their soul. 

Jan Saudek
[Photographer, b. 1935, Prague, Czechoslovakia, lives in Prague.]

 What I really do is make portraits of the soul. 

Vincent Van Gogh
[Artist, b. 1853, Zundert, Netherlands, d. 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise, France.]

 I always think photographs abominable, and I don’t like to have them around, particularly not those of persons I know and love... photographic portraits wither much sooner than we ourselves do, whereas the painted portrait is a thing which is felt, done with love or respect for the human being that is portrayed. 

Chris Killip
[Photographer, b. 1946, Douglas, Isle of Man, United Kingdom, lives in Boston.]

 I don’t like smiley pictures. A smile is a defense mechanism. It says, “You can’t have the real me but here’s my smile.” You get closer to the real person when they stop smiling. 

Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane Mortenson)
[Actress, b. 1926, Los Angeles, d. 1962, Los Angeles.]

 It’s like being screwed by a thousand guys and you can’t get pregnant. (On what happens between her and still cameras, to photographer Ernst Cunningham.) 

Tom Wolfe
[Writer, b. 1931, Richmond, Virginia, lives in New York.]

 [Richard Avedon] began standing people up against white no-seam paper and lighting their faces so that every wen, hickey, zit, whitehead, blackhead, goober, acne-crater, beard follicle, nose hair, ear bristle, crow’s foot, wattle, mold, eye bag, and liver spot stood out like a tumor, and the poor grey souls looked like pustular ruins, sad, spent, demoralized. Ah, Lord, you never get out of this world alive! This was serious work. 
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