Portraiture in Photography

Comparison Essay 1 Choice A

2020 Summer Term (4W2) History of Photography ARTH 258 01[1002] (Queens College)

Essay Assignments Comparison Essay 1: Portraiture in Photography

Comparison Essay 1 Choice A

Comparison Essay 1 Choice A

Write a comparison of approximately 200 words of the 2 photographs shown. Both are portraits. Discuss the use of visual elements of design like shape,

line, light / shadow, texture, color, depth and space, etc. Also, discuss the visual qualities particular to photography, such as point-of-view, angle of viewing,

cropping of the picture, poses, gestures, facial expressions, use of color or absence of color in the print, etc. Who are the subjects and how are they

depicted? How are they alike or difffferent?



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Comparison and contrast of photographs

The two photographs fall under the portrait category. Both of them show characters that are in deep thought and distress. The women in the pictorials depict motherhood. They are both yearnings for something that is out of their immediate environment. The evenness of the two images complements the message they represent quite well. They both can be understood through visualization by the human eye (Eisinger, 1995).

The photographs portray a lot of differences. Firstly, the first picture signifies power and class, while the second frame shows a woman from a poor background.  The second one seems nearer to the viewer/artist as compared to the first one. In terms of color, the first picture is light in color. Its background is almost blurred, while the second one has more paint, and hence it is darker, and its background is visible (Barthes, 1985).  The first photograph looks highly toned and valuable. There is an enormous space between the image and the viewer. Additionally, the second picture seems the subject has rough, hard, and contours on her face while the first one seems to quite smooth and soft, depicting beauty.

Both the portraits depict life at their extremes. The first picture has a calming effect as it reminisces on beauty while the second sends chills of sympathy to the viewer. The neutral colors used in the second portrait bring out both the simplicity of them and being under the same living environment.




Class discussion

Originality and factualness of a photograph is dependent on so many factors e.g. cropping. For example in the first photograph the image is cropped in so much which makes it difficult to determine the subject’s immediate environment. The Kertesz photo the  shape has been altered, and the angle at which the photograph was taken distorts the authenticity of the image. As a result it is difficult to appreciate the beauty and originality of the photo (Marthur, 2014).


Barthes, R. (1985). The Responsibility of Forms Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation.

Eisinger, Joel. Trace and transformation: American criticism of photography in the modernist period. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995.

Mathur, PK (2014). Development and changes in science-based technologies. Patridge publishing. P.50. Retrieved 25 June 2019.



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