Capturing the Individual

The Serial Portrait

The complexities of the human character are close to impossible to record in one single portrait; instead the ever-evolving personality requires a different method of photography in order to encapsulate the layers of social identity. The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years takes up this task as it showcases 153 works by 20 artists who photographed the same subject in the same place repeatedly. Capturing friends, family and sometimes themselves, the artists endured days, months or years taking multiple pictures of their chosen individuals, with revealing results. The time between each shot records subtle shifts in appearance and circumstance, which creates a study of changing humanity. Alongside Alfred Stieglitz, a leading 20th century photographer, is the work of Paul Strand, Harry Callahan, Emmet Gowin, Vito Acconci and Gillian Wearing. The Serial Portrait is on at The National Gallery of Art, Washington, until 31 December.