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John Foster

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography


Since the beginning of photography in the mid-nineteenth century and for roughly 150 years since, portraits have always been a dominate theme.

As a snapshot collector, portraits of people are probably the most common image to find. Close ups, waist high views and full body shots are the big three, however most photographic portraits are poorly composed, poorly lit, and run of the mill. Composition alone does not make a great portrait — it’s the little things that are more difficult to define: the nuances of pose, the shift of a shoulder, the eyes, or the psychological power that may give us insight into who the subject might be.

The following portraits represent a just a small portion of vernacular images from the Accidental Mysteries collection, ranging from late 19th century to the mid-twentieth century.

All images © John Foster, Accidental Mysteries


The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

The Portrait in Snapshot Photography

Posted in: Accidental Mysteries, Photography

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