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Face Time

A History of the Photographic Portrait

Phillip Prodger


An accessible introduction to the history and themes of photographic portraiture

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From the daguerreotype to the digital age, Face Time is an accessible introduction to one of photography’s most popular subjects: ourselves. With over 250 illustrations, it presents rarely seen treasures alongside works by the greatest names in photography, including nineteenth-century pioneers Hippolyte Bayard and Julia Margaret Cameron, twentieth-century masters Edward Weston, Lee Miller and Richard Avedon, and contemporary groundbreakers Newsha Tavakolian, Rineke Dijkstra and Zanele Muholi.

It also immortalizes some of photography’s most iconic subjects, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo, Truman Capote and many others. Transcending time and space, the book adopts a fresh, thematic approach to the history of photographic portraiture in eight chapters, tracing a wide range of applications and influences across the spheres of art, advertising, anthropology, fashion, narrative, documentary and vernacular photography. Informative and insightful introductions to each theme are followed by unexpected and thought-provoking curations of photographs, as well as detailed commentaries on key images.

The result is an ambitiously curated and visually entertaining introduction to the history and themes of photographic portraiture, and an inspiring journey through the ever-elusive question of human identity.


'A striking and thought-provoking exploration of our photographic fascination with ourselves, and an excellent introduction to the history of the medium in general'
Black & White Photography

'Comprehensive and groundbreaking'
Amateur Photographer

The i newspaper

'‘[Prodger] expertly walks us through a history of the genre, from photography’s invention right up to the present day. He does this with care, consideration and a decent dash of humour to boot'
Amateur Photographer

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.5 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 250

Publication date: 20 January 2022

ISBN: 9780500544914

About the Author

Phillip Prodger is a curator, author and art historian. Previously Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the founding Curator of Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, he is currently Executive Director of Curatorial Exhibitions in Los Angeles. His previous books include William Eggleston Portraits, Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution and Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism.