I liked these unusual portraits as soon as I saw them.The idea is clever, and rather straightforward. What makes them brilliant is the excellent execution.

Photographer Michael Itkoff traveled through cities around the world, and when he found a richly complex location, he and his assistant waited for the right stranger to walk onto the set.

Each of the subjects agreed to be photographed on the spot, as they were, with just a plain white card held behind their heads, as a simple framing device. The white card accentuates the person's head, and once we, as viewers, pause to soak up the visual details, both the model and the surrounding urban environment come to life.

We're treated to bits of quirky personal fashion surrounded by lots of other information — global brands and logos, varieties of motorized traffic, litter, and the unique bits that help to identify what city this might be — London, Sydney, Hanoi, Bangkok, New York, etc. We even see the hands and feet of the assistant as he (or she) stands behind each subject, holding the white card.

Bill Kouwenhoven contributed an essay to introduce this book of images. He wrote, "By making the artifice of portraiture explicitly visible, [Itkoff] critically transforms his work by subverting both the pretenses of the white backdrop and the unadorned, yet equally stylized, contemporary street portrait."

The only fault I find in this book is the actual printing itself; the photographs look pale and muddy on the page, and that's a shame, because the original prints are stunning.

— Jim Casper


   

 Street Portraits
by Michael Itkoff
Paperback: 64 pages
17 x 24 cm
Publisher: Charta
ISBN: 978-88-8158-690-5 
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