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Jörg Colberg in conversation with Dorothee Deiss, Class of 2013

Jörg Colberg: Let’s start with a simple question first. What makes a good portrait? What is it a good portrait has that a bad one doesn’t have?

Dorothee Deiss: That’s not a simple question at all. For a long time I have been looking for the ingredients of a good portrait. In my mind a good portrait strives for honesty, truth, intensity, empathy and respect. It dignifies and makes some kind of beauty visible. It is an emotionally striking picture of somebody, where one could catch a glimpse behind the „surface“. A good portrait doesn’t denude, it keeps a secret which the viewer is able to reveal in many different ways.

Portraiture is mostly about nonverbal communication and the relationship between the subject and the photographer, as well as between the picture and the viewer. For me, it is loaded with a lot of human, social, and ethical expectations. A portrait should capture the richness, complexity, and dimensions of human experience.

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