What moves a portrait beyond the mundane of representing a likeness of someone? What in a portrait conveys a story or makes a connection for us when we look at one?
The tradition of portrait or likeness is as old as art and comprises some of the most significant work in every medium. From the snapshot to the formal portrait, the idea has provided and continues to give the world a means of memory and communication to every genre of art and photography. Each of the visual essays presented here has more than only the likeness of individuals in them. They give us insight into the lives of both the creator and the subjects of the images and that information and connection allows us to see a bit of ourselves. Portraits can become a self-image, or even a public image, shaping how we understand ourselves or how we want others to see or remember us.
In this issue portraits that reveal and conceal how we view ourselves and how others perceive us, are shown along with how we connect with others and what memory is made of. Portraits from Jaffa by Bar Am David explores a community in Tel Aviv made up of both Arabs and Jews; Tina Remiz looks at a collective memory of Russian immigrants in Latvia; Mark Krajnak gives us a glimpse into the idea of connection and story in his 100 Strangers project; and Mark Erwin Babej examines the idea of self-image in Mask of Perfection.
We also sit down with Joe McNally, a legendary storyteller and portraitist and master of light. He has produced some of the greatest images and essays of our time, from “The Future of Flying”—one of National Geographic’s most popular cover stories—to his most well known portrait series “The Faces of Ground Zero—Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th”. His insight into what it takes to create a good portrait as well as how imagination can lead to stories reveals how he makes those memorable images we know so well.
And continuing our tradition, we end with Noir by Mark Krajnak, Pity the Night–a great combination of words and image. With this issue, Mark now has the distinction of having more photographs published in Rear Curtain than any other storyteller.
One of our goals is to share stories that are universal. That doesn’t necessarily mean we all have the same understanding of portraits but rather that we can each see something in these stories to which we can have a connection. We hope we have succeeded with this collection of visual essays and at the same time, pushed the boundaries of what we think about when we go out to make portraits.
This is the Editor’s Note from Issue 4. To learn more about making portraits, please pick up a copy today.