What makes a good portrait?

I often find Jörg Colberg‘s Conscientious blog (see sidebar) annoying, too often clogged up with short and undiscriminating links to photographers, but among these are some interesting pieces that make me continue to check it out.

One of these is What makes a great portrait, where he and Miguel Garcia-Guzman of Exposure Compensation, another blog I’d add to my Sage feed if I could work out how, wrote to zillions of photographers, fine art and commercial, bloggers, curators, editors, and gallerists and asked them the question “What makes a good portrait?”, asking them to provide an example and their comments.

They both print the 20 or so replies that they got – which do include a few great portraits, notably by Ingres and Sander, along with a few others that are frankly dross and some between those extremes. One of the pictures is that beautiful image of a young woman, Edouard Boubat’s muse Lella, taken in Brittany in 1947. This can be seen with some of his other images of her on the Sexuality in the Arts blog. It is certainly the best image of the set, but I’m not sure it is the best portrait of her.

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