power, position and fantasy in the portrait

Photography has become everyone’s game. It is a medium, that used through pure accident can produce pure beauty. With relative ease young teenagers are making a name for themselves. But with so much competition it is tricky to choose who makes the profit and who will gain fame.

With the advent and now proliferation of social media, photography is also becoming far more personal and intimate than before. But the intimate has all too often been dominated by a frivolous space made for fantasy where the individual is dramatic, gregarious or grandiose.

I wish not to de-value this form of escapism; it does provide a space for people to imagine themselves as something else and imparts a confidence for many to see themselves accessing various possibilities and alternative lives. The problem I see emerging is that with this proliferation of surrealism and fantasy the portrait of the working class person, child, mother, non-westerner, sick etc. situated in their own environment becomes under valued or rather not necessarily seen as an image where pride steps in. Instead these images often sit in the realm of ‘photojournalism’ where struggle and pain are the focus and pride is relegated to the realm of advertising, fashion or fantastical self-portraiture.

I acknowledge that this is not always the case but it is definitely a trend.

Below are a variety of portraits from a few photographers who, I believe, produce some beautiful images. Some are fantastical some are not and some could be seen as problematic. For those clearly capturing an individual in his or her environment there are questions that should be considered: Do they relegate an individual to their small box of limitations? OR Do they considered that individuals perspective and input? How much interaction / collaboration was there between photographer and subject? Does the subject in any way take pride or ownership over some aspect of their portrait?



A boy taking a shower in the Yumana river in Delhi. 40% of communal drinking water is wasted through pipe leaks or used illegally (i.e. showers). Information is taken from Photo District News website.




A voter registers in Southern Sudan


PHOTOGRAPHER: Jennilee Marigomen





PHOTOGRAPHER: Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir Flickr photographer Eros Turannos (flickr psuedonym)

PHOTOGRAPHER: Laina Briedis / Eros Turannos


Flickr photographer with psuedonym Miss Lulu and The Teaspoon Shortage

PHOTOGRAPHER: Lucia Holm / Miss Lulu and The Teaspoon Shortage


About erin bosenberg

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s