How Different Photographers Approach the Same Subject – 12 Portraits of Andy Warhol

An established photographer has his or her own style. It’s no surprise that this is what makes each artist and their work unique. To underscore this point one only need to dig through image archives once in a while to see how different photographers have interpreted the same subject. The findings are powerful.

Photographs of people are best for this exercise, and perhaps no subject is more alluring than Andy Warhol, who–perfect for our analysis– was photographed by so many of the great image makers of 20th century. Below are some classic shots from Mapplethorpe, Avedon and Weegee, and a unique peek into some lesser known Warhol images…many of which he shot of himself.

In Cincinnati? With Pug dogs? In drag? A taste of the ’80’s, an icon, a Polaroid.

Note the remarkable differences–and the similarities–of each of the photos below, AND what each image says or doesn’t say. One subject, many different results.

Robert Mapplethorpe, 1986

Richard Avedon, 1969

Weegee, 1965

Stephanie Chernikowski, 1984

Bernard Gotfryd, 1980's

Nancy Schiff, 1981

Herve Gloaguen, 1966

Self Portrait, 1979

Self Portrait, 1979

Self Portrait in Drag

Self Portrait in Drag

Self Portrait in Drag

Self Portrait in Drag

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paintedfoot says:

Another great one for a “many photographers, one subject” post would be Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Pumping Iron days. Mapplethorpe, Leibovitz, Warhol and Erwitt all created amazing black and whites of him. My favorite is Leibovitz’ with Arnie and Lou Ferrigno. Insert wolf whistle.

Nice old photography..Thanks for sharing.

Chris F. says:

Another great Andy Warhol portrait that was used by Time for his obituary —

M.Y.Dube says:

Herve Gloaguen, 1966 … i like this portrait because it is subtle… understated…. it stresses the point that even though Warhol is famous …. he is still just another person… and the portrait is just of another moment in his life.

I was fortunate to have photographed Andy Warhol with his exhibition of self portraits in London back in the 1980’s. One of the portraits was selected for an exhibition entitled ” Andy Warhol Other Voices Other Rooms”. says:

Andy Warhol was the Cleveland Jr. of the art world.

Poetic justice perhaps that the man obsessed with surface had it so rough.

Many interpret Warhol’s work as impersonal. Yet I am assured he ate Campbell’s soup for lunch every day for 30 years.

fas says:

Arent they different locations as well. Does that count?

Martin Wolf says:

As I look at these photos I begin to think that Andy Warhol was not a very happy person. None of the photos cries “happy life”. The first self portrait from 1979 tries to hide that, I think, but doesn’t succeed.

Just my observations, maybe I’m totally wrong. :D

Rodman says:

Through this blog post (thank you Chase) my interest was piked and I discovered, what seemed to be an ubiquitous name/figure in my experience, Andy Warhol. I think he was so unoriginal that he became original, i.e., his depictions of common occurrences juxtaposed against extreme (e.g., drag, ordinary patterns) may have caused his commercial/artistic success.

I find his work to be empty of genuine effort and full of commerce.

Charles says:

Mapplethorpe does it for me. The hair, eyebrows, sheen on cheeks, glow on lips, disembodied head… Perfect portrait of a genius, We’ll miss Andy more every day.

Raj says:

Excellent post, Chase, one of the most interesting ones I’ve read of late, in fact. You’ve raised a valid point with what you’ve said, and a lot more with what’s left unsaid. The pictures, the differences, similarities, contribution of the subject, personality of the subject versus the personality of the photographer, the subject making the picture rather than the photographer doing so, and of course, portraits through different years, Warhol as a personality, the way his persona and self-perceived persona have transformed through the years… the list is endless.

On a simpler vein, it’s also about how different photographers interpret the same place, or same subject. So many people have shot the Taj Mahal all these years. There is one standard frame, one stock frame that thousands of people around the world have shot, and yet, so many people have shot so many unique perspectives of it as well. Basically, there are some photographs amidst those thousands, which move beyond the obvious.

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