Magazine article Communication World

The Group Portrait: When Bonding Becomes Communication

Magazine article Communication World

The Group Portrait: When Bonding Becomes Communication

Article excerpt

Group portraits are a staple of organizational publications. But most say nothing to readers because organizational group shots are usually made and published to boost the egos of those who appear in them.

Group portraiture must express the nature of the group itself to be effective as communication. To capture the essence of a group, photographers must somehow define the bonds that transform the individuals into a group. Here are four examples of group portraits that do just that.

I made the two-person group portrait above in Punta Arenas, Chile, at a commemoration honoring the explorations of Fernando Magellan. Dressed in vintage local attire, this pair listens impassively to a speech describing the impact of Magellan's voyage on their region. They stand before an impressive monument to the explorer--the softly focused bronze rendering of Magellan's ship behind them adds context. They convey a sense of history, dignity, pride and honesty. Although gender and expression differ, they are bonded by these basic human values, defining the place and its people.

Ray Lupo, a Washington, D.C., attorney, captured the second example as part of a project for a digital photography class he was attending with me at the Santa Fe Workshops. Lupo found this trio on a Santa Fe, N.M., USA, street corner and asked them to pose for a portrait bonding yesterday and today into a seamless whole. The men at left and center look at us as if they have come straight from another time, while the fellow on the right seems comfortable in the present. He extends his arm as if to include, but not embrace, the others, while his smile engages us. His modern pipe and American flag pin are details that turn yesterday into today. The adobe wall and mellow earth tones wrap this portrait in a southwestern context. The abundant facial hair, western hats and local costumes bond them all into a cohesive trio--Lupo calls them "The Three Hombres."

The third example is an industrial group portrait featuring four merchant seamen passing time on the deck of a British container ship wending its way through the Panama Canal. I made this portrait as our cruise ship sailed past the container ship. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.