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: Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | A Mixed Bag

  2. Tina these photos are impressive and fantastic . I second what Uday Narayanan had to say. I only wish I had as much talent that you have in your eye and your finger.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Khana's Web

  4. Excellent post. I like facial expressions that make portraits show real human beings. The monk was my favourite. He epitomised what I though a devout monk would be like but in his hand was a pen. For some reason it just stood out.

    • Thanks very much Imagineer! Yes, he was quite the catch. He was hard at work and never noticed me as he was tucked away in an area not really accessible to visitors. Same thing with the young girl at the pump. Sometimes you just have to leave the guides and the prescribed path and see what you can find 🙂

  5. Pingback: WPC – Selfie | Words 'n Pics...

    • Thanks so much Sherry – he was a very lucky catch ! I was in Thailand and came around a corner away from the rest of the visitors and voila, there he was, hard at work and in total concentration such that he never even saw me. It was awesome!!

  6. Just amazing little stories….yes i agree ‘pensive’ is a very involved moment ….’girl at the pump’ too!!
    Just beautiful moments captured….love your very detailed eye!!

  7. Pingback: Irish Selfie | Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

  8. Wonderful images and words, as ever, Tina…I’m with Jude on being transfixed by your posts! Well, you got your ‘selfie’ in, but gave us some great portraits, my favourite by a slim margin is the little girl at the pump

    • Thanks Sue-especially for the “transfixed” agreement 🙂 a lovely compliment. The little girl is an all-time favorite for me too. I have quite a few shots of her (thanks to a great zoom lens) but this is the one I like best.

      • Nothing like a good zoom – what’s the maximum focal length on the one you are referring to? My ‘go everywhere’ is an 18-200….

      • I have the 18-200 as well, and use it constantly, but the lens on that one was Nikon’s glorious 70-200vr f/2.8. Some of the best glass around and a staple in most every Nikon pro’s kit. Best photo investment I’ve ever made. Not so much the reach of the lens as the quality of the glass.

        Sent from my iPad

      • It was pure extravagance I’ll admit, but I’ve loved it for almost 10 years now! I figure another 10 or so and it will have been a good investment!

      • It’s built to last and should outlive you! Part of me is very envious, but the realist in me knows that I no longer have the stamina to lug something like that around because of my health…I’m already beginning to feel my D300 plus 18-200VR are a bit on the heavy side!

      • I agree wholeheartedly! I carried a D300s w 18-200 AND a D300s w the 70-200 the whole time I was in china. Talk about weight! My backpack w equipment & tripod weighed more than my month’s worth of clothes and toiletries suitcase!

        Sent from my iPad

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Art – Selfie | Isadora Art and Photography

  10. These are all stunning portraits. I love the one called ‘Highlights’ because it reminds me of the portrait my friend painted of me. My hair is highlighted in the portrait, as well. I suppose curly hair captures light. I have difficulty with portraits. I need los of practice. You are an inspiration for me to practice more.
    Great shots …

    • Thanks very much Isadora – I do love portrature, such an interesting challenge trying to capture someone’s spirit, especially those you don’t know. And you’re right, from your gravatar I can see your hair is similar to the girl in the photo and can visualize a backlit portrait of you as well! Appreciate your stopping by and your lovely comment.

  11. Excellent shots Tina! I love that quote by Minor White. All photographs are indeed self portraits. Picking out a favourite from this series is a tough ask. Each one is a reflection of your personality. There is affection, humour, sheer beauty(‘Highlights’), intense emotion(‘Pensive’), innocence(Girl at the pump’). ‘The Shawl’ makes me really curious to know more about that person. Beautiful photographs.

  12. Who needs selfies when portraits like these are so much more rewarding – for the photographer and the viewer. I am, as usual, transfixed by your post.
    Jude xx

  13. I really like those photos. It is hard to pick a favorite because they all are great. Each quote is perfect for the photo. I like the selfie.. Also the big eyes of the girl with the ‘big’ hair.

  14. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie (A Happy One) | What's (in) the picture?

  15. “highlights” was the highlight for me… Although little girl fetching water got me too! , your classic photography stance is just that…. And easily recognizable,

  16. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie | The Wandering Poet

  17. Your portraits are my favorite part of your collection. they capture the essence of the subject , and are always moving and provocative. Of these, macho, monk, pensive and girl at pump really grabbed me and, as usual, the quotes are all tremendous. thanks for another great post.

  18. Thanks for the selfie with Charleston homes and all the fabulous portraits. I can’t pick a favorite, but I’m bookmarking this so I can quickly return to see the photos and read the quotes, some old favorites and some NEW ONES! I’m still cogitating about my selfie, but maybe a curiositycafe post soon?

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