Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie / The Art of the Portrait

“All photographs are self-portraits.”
Minor White



This week Cheri has challenged us to share a “selfie”.  Like most photographers, my lens is typically focused outwardly – we tend to let our photographs speak for us.  But a challenge is a challenge so I’ve included the shot of myself above.  I made this one while exploring some of the many charms of my home city, Charleston SC.

Coincidentally, our photography group on Kiawah is focused this month on portraiture.  While the shot above is, I suppose, a self-portrait, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorite portraits of others – all of whom are far more interesting than yours truly 🙂



hen you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul.”

Winna Efendi

The photograph above is one of my personal favorites. The obvious affection between the horsewoman and her mount makes me smile each time I look at it.  To me, the portrait captures the spirit of both the woman and the horse, making the feelings of the subjects clearly visible to the observer.  I also like that the photo was made within a few miles of my home, showing that exotic travel is not a necessity in order to make a memory.



There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk.”

Charles Dickens

Some portraits allow the photographer to cast his or her subject in a humorous light.  Little did these two wonderful Tango dancers in La Boca realize how silly they looked under the watchful eye of the graffiti tourist behind them – or did they????



“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.”

Oscar Wilde

Sometimes a portrait is a result of serendipity.  Originally, I was drawn to the woman above because of the sun backlighting her hair.  Only later did I realize how strikingly beautiful she was, with her incredible eyes and her richly-colored scarf.



“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

While it’s true that the eyes are the portrait of the soul, sometimes a portrait need not include them to make a statement. In this case, the back of the subject tells a great deal about her, perhaps more even than might a view of her face.



Ultimately success or failure in photographing people depends on the photographer’s ability to understand his fellow man.

Edward Weston

Speaking of scarves, how differently the young man above wears one!  These guys were our guides as we trekked through the glorious mountains of Argentina’s beautiful Patagonia. There aren’t many men who can get away with a headscarf like this one and STILL maintain uber-machismo!!



When I say I want to photograph someone, it really means I’d like to know them.

Annie Leibovitz

While traveling through Southeast Asia, I found myself fascinated by the many monks, most of whom went about their days without a care for the ever-present tourists and their cameras.  I particularly liked this portrait because I felt it captured a moment of supreme concentration in the subject, oblivious to his colorful surroundings, the trappings of the task at hand, and the lens focused on capturing the moment.



It is more often the good psychologist rather than the good photographer who makes good portraits.

Philippe Halsman

Sometimes it’s the enigma of the photograph that makes it interesting.  For example, I find myself wondering about the mood of the gentleman pictured above, which I shot during our recent visit to China.  His furrowed brow made me think he was puzzling over a complex problem, but then again, he may just have been a generally serious person pondering a recent conversation or planning for some future challenge.  The portrait, however, leads me to wonder – which was the point of the photograph in the first place.



“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth & skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.”

Edward Steichen

Finally, one of my favorite captures ever, which I call “Girl at the Pump”. An example of an environmental portrait, it captures the young girl within her usual surroundings.  The idea of such a portrait is to better portray the life of the subject as well as his or her physical features.  The great Henri Cartier Bresson, considered the father of photojournalism said: One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself”. I especially like this capture because the subject was not posing and yet if I had wanted her to pose I could not have found a better environment to portray her life than her connection to the simple task of water collection in Cambodia.

With apologies for putting a bit of a different spin on the “selfie” challenge, I invite you to click here to enjoy a first-hand view of some other bloggers’ responses.

163 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Selfie / The Art of the Portrait

  1. Pingback: obscurity [a series of hipster selfies] | Ramisa the Authoress

  2. Thanks for stopping by KCinAZ and am glad that you liked my Abandoned: Fill ‘er Up pictures. I’ve enjoyed seeing your selfie and other pictures. Nice work! Karen

  3. Hi Tina, Since I took up photography again, I haven’t taken any portraits. I think these are all wonderful. Perhaps it is something I will try at some point. For now, I tend to spend a fair bit of time waiting for people to get out of shot, unless they help to put scale to a picture of course. 🙂

    • 🙂 I hear you loud and clear on the waiting for the shot Adrian. I was really worried about that when we went to China’s Great Wall but we were very lucky that day and there were only a few other visitors. One of them had a pink umbrella and was happy to pose walking away from me which created a wonderful photo op. She also took a shot of my husband and me with my camera which was much appreciated. we call that making lemonade out of lemons LOL

  4. Amazing … I think the best selfie is your header photo … *smile – and I love the quote
    “All photographs are self-portraits.”
    Minor White
    how true isn’t that. I wish I dared to take close up on people .. that I found interesting, but my new camera has arrived today and I will be able to take close up of the moon with its superlens, so now I don’t have to be in people’s face for portrait. Fantastic gallery again.

    • Thanks Viveka! The header isn’t really a selfie since I didn’t take it but it does show me at my usual task at hand LOL! Enjoy the new camera–looking forward to some great shots!

      • Okay, so true .. the header photo can’t be a selfie .. never thought that fare. Great photo still. *smile
        Yes, it’s going to be a playful weekend, pity I have charge the battery before I can use it .. otherwise there would be some evidence already this evening. *smile

  5. A collection of some very awe inspiring portraits. I think the Macho Men is one of my favorites. If I tried wearing a scarf like that I’m afraid I’d look like an idiot. And I love your very first quote: “All photographs are self portraits.”

    • Thank you Emilio – they really were very macho I must admit 🙂 The scarf would make MOST men look like idiots but somehow he wore it well. Then again, he’s probably a lousy photographer LOL. Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • I’m every bit as shy about it as you are Sue. But the more you do it the less it bothers you. And most people really like having their photos taken and enjoy seeing themselves on the LCD. And when all else fails, there’s always the zoom lens LOL!

    • Thanks Madhu. She was a really lucky capture. I was with friends in Cambodia and they were indoors at an art display when I spotted her outside around a corner. She was a perfect subject in a perfect place, and is a favorite memory for me.

  6. ‘Highlights’ — looks like it is straight off the cover of National Geographic magazine.
    ‘Girl at the pump’ …. can only imagine her story, her life!
    Bad boy ‘Macho Men’ very very cool. Borrrrn to be Wiiiiild !!
    All are beautiful – thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Diane!! Borrrrrn to be Wiiiiild might have been a better title than mine! I think the sunglasses were serving a dual purpose – blocking the sun and also hiding their dilated pupils if you get my drift LOL!

  7. I find it interesting that the monks seem oblivious to the photographers. That, I suppose, is testimony to their discipline. Very interesting.
    Wonderful shots as always. I absolutely love your blog. 🙂

  8. Wonderful work, Tina. But I disagree – I’m sure you every bit as interesting as each of these people. And I like your selfie – it’s fun to take reflection photos! I hope you’re doing OK on Kiawah this winter – I know it’s been rough in many place on the east coast and I imagine you’ve had your share. Take care!

    • Hi Lynn – great to hear from you! We’ve had a really cold winter by Kiawah standards but compared to the rest of the US we’re doing just fine! The ice storm was bizarre but mostly it’s just been colder than our norm. Thanks for worrying about us 🙂

  9. well I like the spin you put on this theme – but you did include a selfie and that was the crux of the challenge. I lied the lady with the hair (and scarf) and found that her mouth and nose were just as beautiful as those eyes – whew = art face! Also enjoyed the Monk and the details about the girl at pump – and glad to learn the term environmental portrait. All were gems. And wow, doe sit take you a while to out these together or are you quick to assemble quotes and details – just curious because they are so well done. thx for a nice post. ~yvette

    • Thanks Yvette – you’re right! I wouldn’t have called it that but she does have an art face 🙂 How long it takes depends on the subject and the approach I take. For this one I was doing some work on portraits with our photo club so it was serendipity and didn’t take especially long. The quotes do take some time but I enjoy reading the thoughts of some of the great minds!

    • It sure is Laurie. I hadn’t seen it before researching this one and loved it instantly! Interesting how few of us actually posted photos of ourselves where we were visible! Appreciate your stopping by!

  10. Always love your “take” on the photo challenges. I also love the last one of the girl at the pump. Thanks (as always) for sharing your photos and insights.

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