Adam W. Hill is a photographer whose work centers on the creation of alternative portraiture. This particular series, titled Dollface, explores the effect of doll-like makeup on people of various ages; with heavily rouged cheeks, thick eyebrows, and contoured lips, his subjects are a magnetic (and eerie) combination of adulthood and infancy. Hill has done an excellent job highlighting the brightness and color of their eyes, giving life and vibrancy to an artificial aesthetic. It is fascinating, too, how the models have chosen to express their doll-identities; some look passive and innocent, others playful and mischievous, the rest serious or melancholic.
Peruse Adam’s website, and you’ll see that all of his series explore portraiture in an unconventional way; his subjects are youthful, playful, and sometimes a bit absurd. In his portfolio’s “About Me,” he expresses his views on the historical significance of the portrait, stating how it has traditionally been used “for people of privilege and power, and as a means of affirming the authority of certain individuals” (Source). While he resists this sort of elitist representation, he is also fascinated by the aesthetics of formal portraiture; as a result, his work displays alternative subjects in a quasi-traditional way by infusing them with an appearance of “power and privilege, […] decadence and despair” (Source).
Dollface is an amusing and fascinating example of Adam’s manipulation of photographic tradition. By posing his models in conventional ways, but dressing them with hyperbolic, doll-like makeup, he “plays” with and subverts the elitism behind formal portraiture, thereby producing a commentary on the artificiality of the genre. Check out Adam’s website for more examples of his work.