Portraits represent people to others. In this sense, portraits are documentary. For example, I know my grandparents only by their portraits. Their portraits are important documents of my family tree. Many historical figures are known by their portraits published in books. Their portraits are unique documents of history and subjects to study. From those portraits people know what kinds of people were those historical figures. Just the appearance of a person can tell a lot: his/her character, how he/she looks and what they wore.
On the other hand, portraits are a kind of fine art which requires different technology from drawing in reflection of objects. Portraits are related to fine art because they always need aestetic concern. People (objects) tend to be represented nicely on portraits. As Max Koslof wrote “here is a person who has decided to be nice about the superior consciousness he has (p.14)”. Historically, we know many drawing portraits from last centuries before the invention of the photography. I think, the way to present people in fine art and in photography almost is the same: to show nice people.
When I listed albums by Rita Reed and Nancy Andrews with pictures of gays and lesbians, I had the same thought “ Nice pictures”. They are portrayed nicely and naturally as any other people could be portrayed. The portraits demonstrate just who they are. But texts raise more social problems they face in their lives. Portraits showed that they are the same people as others. But texts tell us they are different because of their sexuality. Some people treated them badly.
Those pictures gave me a lot of thoughts. Before coming to America, I quite did not understand about gay and lesbian community. Now I know that nothing wrong with those people. It is not illness, it is inborn thing. I think, every person could be a minority in a certain situation and in a certain place regarding to his/her nationality, race, age or sex … Those albums should have benefited in raising problems in society and making decision about this community. Seeing those pictures I admired braveness of the objests posed in front of the camera and ability of the photographers to take their pictures in various circumstances.