While jurying this exhibition, I was struck not only by the quality of the work – which was very high – but perhaps more importantly, by the level of intimacy included in so many of the portraits. It is a humbling experience to be allowed into another person’s life in such a meaningful way. I am grateful to each of the photographers who submitted for sharing their work, and their lives, with me.
I was most drawn to portraits that had a quiet intensity, inviting me to engage with the emotional and psychological experiences of the subjects depicted. I gravitated towards images that were formally rigorous, paying close attention to composition, light, color, gesture, and facial expression. The images that held my attention the most were the ones where the interaction between the photographer and the subject was evident: portraits that implied a sense of trust and collaboration.
It is difficult to choose one image as “best of show,” particularly considering there were close to 600 entries to choose from. Throughout the jurying process, I kept gravitating towards Michael Joseph’s portrait. The gaze of the subject is arresting, at once self-embodied and vulnerable. The portrait is formally strong, employing soft natural light and a shallow depth of field to bring our attention immediately to the subject and invite us to reflect upon their experiences in the world. Sometimes a formal simplicity allows for a psychological complexity, an idea illustrated beautifully by this compelling portrait.
— Jess T. Dugan, juror for LOOKING AT YOU: Intimate Portraiture