Emerson on Portraiture
I see that the lights of the common day as they fall on every face & figure of animal or plant are more excellent & speaking than any of those lights which painters like better, twilight, deep shade, moonlight or torchlight; yet what avails my cold knowledge that they are better if I find them unaffecting.
. . .
In writing, the casting moment is of the greatest importance, just as it avails not in Daguerre portraits that you have the very man before you, if his expression has escaped.
. . .
Were you ever Daguerreotyped, O immortal man? And did you look with all vigor at the lens of the camera or rather by the direction of the operator at the brass peg a little below it to give the picture the full benefit of your expanded and flashing eye? And in your zeal not to blur the image, did you keep every finger in its place with such energy that your hands became clenched as for fight or despair, & in your resolution to keep your face still, did you feel every muscle becoming every moment more rigid: the brows contracted into a Tartarean frown, and the eyes fixed as (only) they are fixed in fits, in madness, or in death; and when at last your are relieved of your dismal duties, did you find the curtains drawn perfectly, and the coat perfectly, & and the hands true, clenched for combat, and the shape of the face & head?
But unhappily the total expression (had) escaped from the face and you held the portrait of a mask instead of a man. Could you not by grasping it very tight hold the stream of a river or of a small brook & prevent it from flowing?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals and Miscellaneous Writings v. VIII 113-116