Re-imagining Portraiture with Video Portaits

Video portraits, or long portraits, are just what they sound like- a subject sitting in front of a camera for several minutes. I first came across video portraits about 3-4 years ago when I saw Clayton Cubitt's long portrait of photographer Noah Kalina. Cubitt is best known for his NSFW, in-your-face fashion photography. And while lot of the work in his portfolio has an immediacy and titillating flashiness, what caught my attention in his video portraits is the extreme patience and restraint they possess. There are no soundtracks to his Cubitt's portraits. It's just you and the subject. I found it hard to hold the subject's gaze for the full portrait.

Tyler Shields, a celebrity portrait photographer, takes a slightly different approach to video portraits. He uses his photo shoots as an opportunity to do video portraits with subjects like Alison Brie and Zachary Quinto. His portraits are set to music and almost seem like music videos.

I've even dabbled in making video portraits. It's hard not to experiment with video when it's now a function of my camera. Though I can't be sure what motivates video portrait artists like Cubitt and Shields, for me, sometimes a single image isn't enough to fully capture one of my subjects. Sometimes I need a song or movement to help me more fully express my emotions about my subject. My video portraits are never meant to be narrative or even polished. They were simply a celebration of a subject in a moment.

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Rob's picture

Let's not forget that Warhol did this decades ago...:)

Heath Hurwitz's picture

It's a bummer that you have made FStoppers annoying to read, all for an April fools joke. It is just diminishing the validity of the articles.

I guess I just have to avoid the site for a few days until this is over.

Tam Nguyen's picture

This is so awesome. Did you know that you can even edit ANYTHING on this site? It's crazy!!!!!!!!

Shannon Wimberly's picture getting turned on....

Archie Campbell's picture

One that I was asked to do.

Mine is only 30 secs (half speed) but it's quite difficult to keep the motion fluid for a length of time without feeling awkward! Fun to do though.

Shai Yammanee's picture

Beautiful. Plus, what a stunning and fascinating subject

me's picture

she is on acid

panimus's picture

Wim Wenders made great use of this idea in his film about Pina Bausch. He had his interview subjects (various dancers) just siting in front of the camera saying nothing for about a minute while a voice over of the same subject served as the soundtrack. Very powerful.