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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Final Major Project: The camera does not know them at all.

“While individual portraits may draw us in, it is not in their individuality that we find their full force, but in the connecting and reconnecting of thought and feeling that they collectively represent. They are determinedly incomplete, resisting all attempts at tidy resolution. This, in the end, is the key to their beauty. Duchamp would have told us that the camera makes no distinction between subjects. It is incapable of social comment, holds no affections, and knows no politics. In the case of portraiture, it cannot reveal identity, only provide inadequate vignettes of encounters. Photography might be valued for its evidentiary qualities, but the things it shows us are innately superficial. As viewers, we cannot know the sitter as the photographer did, and he, in turn, knows them only through the prism of his own experience. The camera does not know them at all.”

– (Eggleston et al. 2016: 34)


Eggleston, W., Prodger, P., and Cooper, T. 2016. William Eggleston portraits. London: Yale University Press.

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