“The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
In this day of iPhones, Instagram, and selfie culture, images of people are constantly part of our life in more ways than they have ever been. However, capturing a powerful portrait goes well beyond the quick press of a button.
In this online workshop with portrait photographer and teacher Rania Matar, we first discuss the key elements that make a good portrait. Then we delve into the process of approaching potential subjects, establishing trust, and developing a relationship. We learn to pay attention to detail, postures, expressions, and the use of the environment, while working through the process and all the details of creating a great portrait. We learn to use framing, natural light, location, background, body language, the significance of the gaze or not, as well as paying close attention to the relationship of the photographer to the subject throughout the entire process.
Over the course of our time together, we explore many different aspects of portraiture — close-up portraits, environmental portraits, documentary portraits, collaborative portraits, self-portraits, group portraits, and conceptual portraits. Through assignments, students are encouraged to truly and intimately see their subject and find their own voice in this creative process of making beautiful, powerful, creative, and collaborative portraits. Rania leads group image reviews of students’ work, and also shares the work of well-known artists for ideas and inspiration.
This three-week workshop with Rania offers community, connection, and reveals important new ways of working with people and making intimate and creative portraits.
Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. As a Lebanese-born American woman and mother, her cross-cultural experience and personal narrative inform her photography.
Rania’s work has been widely exhibited in museums worldwide in solo and group exhibitions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Rollins Museum of Art, Fotografiska, and more. It is part of the permanent collections of several museums, institutions, and private collections. A mid-career retrospective of her work was recently on view at Cleveland Museum of Art, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the American University of Beirut Museum.
In 2023, Rania will have two solo museum exhibitions of her recently published series SHE at the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Fitchburg Museum of Art. Her images will also be part of a traveling exhibition about Women Artists from the Middle East that opens at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
Rania received several awards and nominations including: a 2022 Leica Women Foto Project Award, 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2017 Mellon Foundation artist-in-residency grant, 2021 (and 2011, 2007) Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowships, and a 2011 Griffin Museum of Photography Legacy Award. She is currently a finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition with an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and for the Taylor Wessing Prize with an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 2008 she was a finalist for the Foster Award at the ICA/Boston, with an accompanying solo exhibition.
She published four books: SHE, 2021; L’Enfant-Femme, 2016; A Girl and Her Room, 2012; Ordinary Lives, 2009.