So I spent a good part of yesterday on an extended web-surfing odyssey looking at the work of a great many contemporary portraitists to see if their subjects are typically smiling or not. (Fascinating how such a seemingly trivial, offhand post can lead to such an involved discussion.) And the evidence is overwhelming: among important portrait photographers in almost any genre (art photography, editorial photography, etc.), smiling subjects are very much the exception rather than the rule. The average seems to be maybe one smile for every ten portraits, at least on the basis of what I saw yesterday. So it's not an historical thing at all: most serious portraits (again, no pun intended) are unsmiling ones.
I was going to put together a post consisting of twelve example portraits by a dozen contemporary portrait photographers as a demonstration of this, but halfway through I thought, "what's the use? It won't prove anything to anyone." You could just as easily pick twelve smiling portraits. Neither proves anything. So I gave that up.
But along the way (the guiding motto of the Web being: one thing leads to another), I discovered Cig Harvey, a name I'd never encountered before.
Those in love with bright colors will love her.
She has a book out, too.
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