There’s Less to Portraits Than Meets the Eye, and More

Art Direction
Editorial Design

There's Less to Portraits Than Meets the Eye, and More is an article by Teju Cole which discuses the history of portraiture and its present implications. Further, it discusses how the nature of portraiture has changed over time discussing new practical applications like surveillance as well as emotional aspects like connections between photos, viewer, subject and photographer. It is an exploration of portraiture throughout time, and how its meaning is constantly evolving.

Tasked with recreating the editorial design of the article for Aperture Magazine, a minimalist photography publication, I created 8 images to go along with the article in spreads. The idea was to make it look as if the article fit seamlessly in the magazine style while maintaining imagery true to the message and the narrative flow.  

"We tend to interpret portraits as though we were reading something inherent in the person portrayed. We talk about strength and uncertainty; we praise people for their strong jaws and pity them their weak chins. High foreheads are deemed intelligent. We easily link the people’s facial features to the content of their character."

"Physiognomy, the idea that faces carry meanings, still haunts the interpretation of portraiture... Sometimes this response is amplified when it’s a portrait of someone not famous, a face that isn’t burdened with predetermined knowledge."

"A machine sees without sympathy. And yet our individual particularities might themselves serve as a comfort in this machine-driven age. The shape of my lips, the shine on my nose, the corners of my eyes, the breadth of my forehead: the same features that allow machines to track me are also dear to the people who love me (not because those features are objectively special but because they are mine)."

"A portrait is an open door. It can remind us of our ethical duty to the other...Not all portraits are created equal: To be great, they must contain presence, tension, a finely balanced amalgam of feeling and craft. “This is human,” is the final meaning of a great portrait, “and I am human, and this is worth defending.”