The portrait as stage play

In the 19th century, the portrait resembled a small, private stage play. The subject of the portrait got ready, dressed appropriately, and set off the photographer’s. Once there, he entered the studio — which, with its plethora of props and necessary items such as chairs, armchairs, drapes, pictures and statuettes was reminiscent of a small stage — and was fitted into this grid of accessories. The background and furnishings were chosen, the pose and attitude rehearsed — “Wouldn’t you like to be holding a book in your hands?” — and finally the lighting was set up.

Urs Stahel
Afterwards: “After the climax” as a focal element in Rineke Dijkstra’a portrait photography

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