Week 8 portrait en creux 17.03.20

Week 8 Portrait en Creux 17.03.20

” The term “portrait en creux,” meaning “hollow portrait” in French, is a term used to describe an image that conveys essential insights about a specific person, just as a portrait would be expected to but without showing the person at all. In this style of photography, the “portrayal,” or the communication of significance about the subject is most often accomplished by either finding or creating a still life arrangement and photographing it with sensitivity to light and shadow, camera vantage point, depth of field control, and composition resulting from purposeful arrangement of design elements.” (Aces forgotten places; 2016)

Amy shared this term with me yesterday as she had come across it , and it is very relevant to my work that I am doing with my children, and the body of work as a whole in the new direction I have taken it, which is portraying ‘essential insights’ about both myself, my family, and our home. I have had a google but unfortunately it is really hard to find websites with information on this style of photography that are written in English. I am going to have a look at the university library to see if anything comes up in there, and also on some of the websites and books that I frequent online and at home.

This fundamental principle of capturing the essence of a person through imagery, but without the person being contained within in the image, is paramount to the work I have been doing capturing the traces of the children, their education, my MA work, and how it all interlocks. Together it almost makes one huge Portrait en Creux , but of our whole family. This body of work, captures, in many big and small ways, the essence of our family.

I have now finalised my work in progress for the module that is to go into an album (made to look like a school exercise book), and it relies strongly on this method of ‘portrait’ or photography.

I am just working on the album design and the sequencing , and also, trying to find printers that are still open for me to be able to create books from, as lots of places are closed down at the moment due to the  coronavirus, and I am acutely aware that I don’t want to get stuck with an idea but no way of producing it if I leave it too long.

Frances Borzello in ‘Seeing ourselves; Women’s self portaits’ talks of artists such as Mary Ellen best and Marie-Nicole Dumont who worked in absent self portraiture (Borzello 2018)






Coursera assignment: PORTRAIT EN CREUX. Available at https://acesforgottenplaces.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/coursera-assignment-portrait-en-creux/ . (Accessed 17.03.20)


Borzello, Frances. 2018. ‘Seeing ourselves; Women’s self portaits’ . London, Thames and Hudson.


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