Anastasia Cazabon on Portraiture

© Timothy Archibald

fototazo has asked twelve photographers what makes a good portrait. This is the 9th in the series of their responses. The other responses is the series have come from Margo Ovcharenko, Shen Wei, Lucas Foglia, Susan Worsham, Steve Davis, Elinor Carucci, Mark Powell and Jess T. Dugan.

Anastasia Cazabon is from Cambridge, Massachusetts and graduated from the New England School of Photography and from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She was a co-founder of the photography collective The Exposure Project. She was included in the Humble Arts Foundation publication The Collector's Guide to Emerging Art Photography. She has shown her work internationally, including shows in Greece, Germany, the United States, Italy, and a solo show at The Gallery for Photography in Gdansk, Poland.

© Andrea Modica. Treadwell, NY (1987)
Anastasia Cazabon: For me a good photographic portrait is more then just an image of someone, it also tells a story and makes me want to know more. Honesty and sensitivity are critical components to a portrait. I see so many photographs that treat the subject as a commodity or an object, completely stripping away the humanity and leaving the viewer empty. Those types of photographs disinterest me as they are devoid of soul and sensitivity.

I love to see the moment captured when the subject is not conscious of the camera. I know that it’s close to impossible for an individual not to be aware of the camera and not to involuntarily put up and hide behind a defensive wall. Even when someone takes a picture of me I can feel myself tense up. So when I see a portrait that seems to be free of the veil of self-consciousness, it's refreshing. That's perhaps the reason I love the freedom of expression emanating from the photographs of children and young people, because as subjects they are unpretentious and not overly self-aware.

© Viktoria Sorochinski
The portraiture of Andrea Modica, specifically the work in "Treadwell" is an example of photographs that I find to be beautiful, honest, sensitive, and yet mysterious. Some work that I have seen recently that has affected me is Timothy Archibald's project "Echolilia", which focuses on his son who is along the autism spectrum. It's free of any sense of frustration and reverberates with love, acceptance, and humor. Another photographer whose work I just recently saw is Viktoria Sorochinski. Her project "Anna & Eve" is quite exquisite and another example of enigmatic portraiture that speaks to the viewer.