A Closer Look:

Two Portrait Photographers from the Leslie-Lohman Collection

Vanessa Rondon, Irene, 2009, 16x20 C-Print

Vanessa Rondon, Laura, 2009, 16x20 C-Print

“I'm a photographer who documents my life and loved ones through intimate photographs. My work is influenced by different parts of my background and identity; it's a constant exploration of who I am, where I belong, where I came from and where I am and want to be. I'm queer, I’m non-binary, I'm a Venezuelan immigrant, I was undocumented, I was raised in Miami, FL, I’ve lived in New York for the past 12 years, I'm one of 10 siblings and so much more. All these identifiers inform who and what I choose as a subject and the themes I explore in my work. My work is personal, intimate and honest. It offers a glimpse into my life and into those whose lives are connected to mine. I explore themes of longing, loss, the notion of belonging rooted in being an immigrant, intimacy, queerness, family, friendship, and community.”

My subjects tend to be close friends and family. I usually shoot them in their own homes. I like personal spaces because they lend for intimate images. Folks are comfortable in their own homes and the added sense of them based on the objects and colors which they surround themselves. When I arrive, I scope out their home looking for the best place with good ambient light and a visually engaging setting. Since I mostly shoot friends and family, there is a level of trust and comfort inherently there. I've also made portraits of folks I don't know intimately. I tend to choose subjects that have a shared experience with me. I've found that having a shared connection creates a level of trust between myself and the folks I'm photographing. Having this connection allows them to open up to me in a way that would not otherwise be possible.”

- Vanessa Rondon

Jess T. Dugan, Julian Anton, 2011. Archival digital print, 24 x 19 in.

How Can We Understand Queer Portraiture?

Questions for Guided Viewing

Take a look at the foreground and background. What do you notice first in this image? What does that tell you about the subject and their setting?

Imitate the pose of the figure in this image. How does that pose make you feel? What message do you get from this person’s body language and expression?

How do you imagine this image may differ if it were a self-portrait? How do you think a photographer affects the outcome of an image? Who would you feel most comfortable taking your photograph?

Jess Dugan is an artist who makes photographs of friends, family, and members of the queer community. Their most recent project, To Survive on This Shore, is currently on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and at www.tosurviveonthisshore.com.