Face Time A History of the Photographic Portrait

Phillip Prodger

An esteemed curator’s introduction to the history and themes of photographic portraiture that masterfully combines some of the most famous portraits ever made with rarely seen treasures and curiosities.

Photographic portraiture has always served a number of functions: from practical identification to storytelling and the intimate personal portrait. With a fresh approach, Face Time explores the many modes of portraiture—from fine art photography to fashion, and from anthropology to cinema—as well as the ways we encounter and interpret a portrait, from the news-hour mugshot to the glossy fashion photograph.

Organized into eight thematic chapters, curator and photography historian Phillip Prodger captures more than 150 years of photographic portraiture, including nineteenth-century pioneers Hippolyte Bayard and William Henry Fox Talbot, modernist icons Lee Miller and Aleksander Rodchenko, as well as contemporary groundbreakers Newsha Tavakolian, Rineke Dijkstra, and Zanele Muholi.

Prodger takes readers through the key questions of photography and dives into complex explorations of identity, representation, and purpose. Intelligently selected, this introduction to the history of the photographic portrait is comprehensive and groundbreaking in scope. Featuring portraits of great figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Yuri Gagarin, Prodger aligns some of the best-known portraits ever made alongside rarely seen gems to tell the story of one of photography’s most popular engagements: us.


This fascinating collection of more than 250 portraits highlights historical images alongside contemporary ones to explore various aspects of the art form.

— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Phillip Prodger


Phillip Prodger is a curator, author, and photography historian. Previously head of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the founding Curator of Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, he now works as a senior research scholar for the Yale Center for British Art. His books include: Hoppeé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street; Ernst Haas: Color Correction (coauthored with William A. Ewing); and Man Ray / Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism.