Visit the Exhibition

America is a snapshot culture. Armed with a portable camera and a spirit of inquiry, we revel in the images that we create. Although we often treat still photographs—including portraits—as ephemeral fragments to be discarded or replaced by the next image, there are portrait photographers today who create pictures that defy an easy death. Often working on a specific commission or editorial assignment, these photographers compose portraits that cause us to pause and reflect.

“Portraiture Now: Feature Photography” focuses on six photographers who, by working on assignment for publications such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, each bring their distinctive “take” on contemporary portraiture to a broad audience. Critically acclaimed for their independent fine-art work, these photographers—Katy Grannan, Jocelyn Lee, Ryan McGinley, Steve Pyke, Martin Schoeller, and Alec Soth—have also pursued a variety of editorial projects, taking advantage of the opportunities and grappling with the parameters that these assignments introduce. Their work builds upon a longstanding tradition of photographic portraiture for the popular press and highlights creative possibilities for twenty-first-century portrayal. The exhibition has additional portraits not included in this Web site; it opened on November 26, 2008, and closed on September 27, 2009.


The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, tells the stories of America through the individuals who have shaped U.S. culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts, and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists who speak American history.


Location: The National Portrait Gallery is conveniently located at Eighth and F Streets, NW, in Washington D.C., above the Gallery Place–Chinatown Metrorail station (red, yellow, and green lines).

Museum Hours: 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. daily. Closed December 25.

Admission: FREE


For more information on visiting the museum, please visit the National Portrait Gallery's Web site.