Photography is fascinating in its ability to capture a moment in time for eternity, a precise moment which can no longer returned to. A prime example is Alexander Garner's piece ‘The Portrait of Lewis Payne’ capturing Payne’s last moments before being executed. His very being and identity as an individual is preserved in one last portrait that appears truthful despite being open to interpretation.
Concerning the nature of identity, it can be said that photography also possesses the ability to encapsulate one’s identity. The photographer Yousuf Karsh, who was particularly famous for his photographic portraits of world renown figures, believed that ‘within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal… a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world’.
These portraits in particular possess a certain quality that appears to capture the essence of the individual, with Ian Mckellen seemingly lost in his thoughts and Albert Einstein appearing humble and honest.
In such a way, photography can be fundamental in its unique ability to encapsulate a moment in time, the identity of an individual, in an instant.
You can find more of Karsh’s work here.