Tag Archives: Khan Academy

John Constable. Wivenhoe Park, Essex

Does a portrait have to be of a person?

Does a portrait have to be of a person, though? People often ascribe human characteristics to inanimate objects. A car that is having trouble starting might be “stubborn,” or a powerful storm might be “angry.” What if the attributes shown in a landscape were supposed to be ascribed to the person who owned that land?

Dr. Abram Fox

John Constable. Wivenhoe Park, Essex
John Constable. Wivenhoe Park, Essex

The main reason I’m posting this is because I’ve given Kukkurovaca a hard time in the past because he only likes portraits which don’t show faces. But it’s an interesting essay in general which reminded me a bit of Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage and how it represented people by showing us images of where they lived and what they handled.

A lot of time when we discuss photography, we get sidetracked by the meanings of specific terms like “landscape” or “portrait” or “straight” or “street” and forget how fungible everything is. So it’s nice to be reminded by a larger art history and education publication that  a landscape can be as much of a portrait as a headshot.


The only way I’ve found to see the Kahn Academy link without having to create an account is by clicking on their tweet below.