Do Mug Shots Make Great Portrait Art?

October 21, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

 

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Jane Fonda was arrested in 1970 for possession of suspicious pills and for kicking the policeman who arrested her. The pills turned out to be vitamins; the charges were eventually dropped.

 

By Alex Thorne

As portrait photographers, we become sensitive to people’s emotions and expressions when they are in front of the camera.  We see a lot of genuine and sometimes not so genuine smiles, laughs and other expressions as we get people to pose for us.  However, in the book Mug Shots: An Archive of the Famous, Infamous, and Most Wanted, Raynal Pellicer shows us another side of many famous personalities.  These shots capture a completely different set of expressions not normally seen in a traditional portrait – which I at least find interesting.

Pellicer’s book looks back through 100 years of archived mug shots to reveal a who’s who of some of history’s most influential and infamous personalities.  We are used to seeing these personalities when they are performing for the camera or in front of large audiences; however these images take on an eerie and intimate quality that draws the viewer closer.

The mug shots are pure, unadulterated emotion and an interesting break from the everyday portrait.  Click here to view a slideshow of sample images from the book.  Maybe mug shots aren’t art, but they are fascinating to view.


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