Category Archives: Portraiture

Alberto Jimenez: Immortality





Photography and Text by Alberto Jimenez, Copyright 2018


Book Review


What stood out to me in Susan Sontag’s On Photography was her message on the infinite power and authority photography has in modern society. Sontag explains how being photographed gives us a sense of being real because photography is capturing reality by freezing it. It is a way to make reality tangible because you can hold a photograph. She also mentions how photography is not only to preserve the past but also to deal with the present.

This image reminds me of photography preserving the past to deal with the present because I recently lost my cousin (female on the right) to cancer. I have a lot of wonderful memories with her, but I do not possess images of all memories; therefore, those memories that I have photographed does make reality tangible. To mourn the death of a loved one, I believe, I need to remember the good times. Seeing pictures like this one have the power to take me back to that point in time and remember the tastes, the smells, the love, and my cousin. It reinforces the fact that she was real and that the love I have for her is real.

Sontag explains that photography is so powerful that it gives us a glimpse of the unknown. It allows us to see something before experiencing it. Which, in turn, enables us to formulate a bias about an event or mirrored reality even before experiencing it. Photography pulls us into that event by activating our sense of sight. Once we have that, we can imagine what we could possibly hear, see, touch, and taste. With my image, although I experienced that event years ago, it still has the power to give me the ability to remember that experience. Sontag explains what I would define as pre-experience where by seeing an image, we can imagine the experience we would have in the reality portrayed by that image. I would add that a photograph also allows for a post-experience where unlike pre-experience where you imagine what an experience would be like, you remember the experience.

Overall, Susan Sontag’s On Photography is very informative. I learned a lot about photography and its history with being considered an art or not and photography’s difference with paintings. At times, it felt as Susan Sontag was taking me on a tour of an exhibit as she explains Arbus’s work. I feel like her explanation equipped me with the knowledge to truly appreciate a photograph. It opened my mind to the type of questions I should ask myself when inspecting a photograph. For example, when initially looking at Arbus’s work, I did not exactly understand the images. I knew they were portraits, but I did not think about any meaning behind this. As Sontag explains Arbus’s work as “reactive—reactive against gentility, against what is approved” (pg 44), I understood that explanation when reevaluating the portraits. Ultimately, On Photography allowed me to understand the immortality of images and the power photography holds. 


About The Author: Alberto Jiminez is a Senior enrolled in the School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Alberto Jimenez, click here


Also posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Documentary, Engineering, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn Photography

Karen Liao: Homecoming



Photography and Text by Karen Liao, Copyright 2018




Throughout the semester, I have been exploring the topics of physical and mental health in different populations through my photos, and I wanted to bring all this together in a project involving a community most familiar to me—Penn. As students, we are inundated with demands of classes, activities, meetings and seemingly endless amounts of work. The competition can be fierce and, the environment can be stressful. With this, there has been increasing attention on the importance of mental and physical well-being of the Penn student body. It is essential for students to find relaxation in something away from the work, to provide relief and maintain well-being. This being said, everyone finds comfort in a different environment, activity, or interaction. My project explores each person’s return to his or her area of relaxation—their unique definition of home.


About The Author: Karen Liao is a Junior enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Karen Liao, click here



Also posted in Blog, Documentary, Environment, Health Care, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn

Diary: Maggie. Portrait of the Day

Portrait of the Day: Maggie.

Portrait of the Day: Maggie.




Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018.


Portrait of the Day

I met Maggie back in the 1990’s during a period when I was photographing a lot of young women in my hometown of Philadelphia.  Maggie is the daughter of my old friend; Neil Stein the visionary restaurenteur who transformed the Rittenhouse Square area during the early 1990’s with the birth of the Stripped Bass and later Rouge, boutique dining at its finest. Neil was a fan of my work and amongst the early collectors of vintage prints from the collection. 


To see additional Diary entries  from this period, click here


Also posted in Art, Blog, Diary, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Glamour, Photography, Popular Culture, Women

Ria Vaidya: Icon


Photography and Brand Concept by Ria Vaidya, Copyright 2018




Psychotic but Iconic


An icon is a symbol. They are people that represent something significant. In this generation, the spectrum of fashion style has been expanded. One of the emerging trends of this generation is the idea of all black, grey and white, also known as monochrome. In the past, being bold in your fashion often had a lot to do with the colors you showcased. ICON is a clothing line that encompasses an individual who chooses to live as a bold minimalist. The brand plays on the irony of how a minimalist who chooses to stick to monochromatic colors can be bold too. ICON is meant to show that deep within these dark color schemes lies a personality that can be interpreted in many ways. A bold minimalist individual could very well be psychotic, but nonetheless they are iconic.


About The Artist: Ria Vaidya is a Senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Ria Vaidya, click here



Also posted in Accessories, Art, Blog, Erotica, Fashion, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, UPenn, UPenn Photography, Women

Alexis Masino: Versace Man

Portrait of Bryan Abrams by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Bryan Abrams by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018


Article by Alexis Masino, Copyright 2018




A black silk surface is swallowed up by bright hues of gold and electric blue creating the appearance of a fiery gate. God-like stone figures are the main characters in view, but there are small portrayals of animals accompanying them: elephants, birds, giraffes, dolphins. And at the very top of each point in the gate, there is a golden globe of the world held up by cherubs. This surreal scene and work of art created by Gianni Versace himself takes its final form on a button down shirt, and sells for a market price of $1300.

The man beneath the shirt is Bryan Abrams, owner of what is rumored to be the most expansive private Versace collection in existence. Totaling over 1,200 pieces of Versace including shirts, ties, jewelry, watches, shoes, limited edition Barbie dolls, and even a one-of-a-kind fuschia jacket, his collection is renowned worldwide. In the world of fashion, Bryan Abrams is Versace Man.

But Abrams was not always so passionate about fashion. In fact, he was completely indifferent. Weighing over 200 pounds in his youth, Abrams had no particular interest in clothing. “I mean I never cared about clothes, I always made fun of guys who read GQ and stuff like that.” Abrams says he limited himself to the section in stores called “Husky” for lack of better options.

It was not until after he graduated from the University of Delaware that Abrams lost a significant amount of weight. “I started to take up running and I wanted to impress this girl to get a date, so I invited her to see my first race.” By the end, he was so far behind that they picked up the finish line for him. His plan might not have worked the way he wanted, but it reaped its own benefits.

“It spurred me to the point to get serious and I started running and running and running…Before my car accident 5 years ago, I had run 50 marathons.”

Abrams dropped the pounds quickly with his running. In his new fit shape he decided to get into fashion, and started with Philadelphia’s own designer Willie Smith. After a self proclaimed “preppy” phase, Abrams started reading outlets like GQ and developed an interest in high fashion. He started with the big names of the time, until one day when he noticed an ad in the paper to meet a fashion designer and decided to attend. Not yet a big name in fashion, it was a meet and greet with Gianni Versace.

Abrams fell in love with the collection. He immediately bought and changed into his first Versace shirt. And from that day, Abrams had a new passion.

“Versace is my life.”

And he means it. His entire wardrobe consists exclusively of Versace — 6 walk-in closets and 12 wardrobe sets full of it — and has since before the ‘80s. Abrams has struggled to protect his precious collection, seeking insurance coverage overseas by Lloyds of London when no company in America would cover the items of clothing.

His vacation plans revolve around Versace as well. Destinations are chosen based on where there is a Versace retailer Abrams has not visited before. The new store will be the first task checked off the list, then the city’s history and other attractions. As for the Versace stores in North America, Abrams can list each one along with the name of its respective manager.

Even when he is not shopping, he visits his favorite stores to catch up with the employees. They know him by name and invite him to their parties. The friendships are genuine. And of course, Abrams always has first pick from new collections.

“People think it’s an expensive hobby but it’s not.” Abrams compares his Versace hobby to any other, explaining that it’s all just about what you choose to spend on. “Some people collect books, some people go to the country club, whatever their passion is.” Versace is Abram’s passion.

For 32 years, Abrams managed a large ticket selling agency in Wilmington, Delaware until they were bought out five years ago. Not much later, he was involved in a horrible car accident. After a few surgeries, Abrams started to recover. He began working in sales at Nordstrom, but did not keep that position very long due to surgery complications.

Now, Abrams focuses most of his time on his passion for Versace. He attends parties and events regularly, as well as store openings and of course, every fashion show. The other passion that has always remained constant in Abrams’ life is his love for his family.

Bryan Abrams was the oldest of five brothers and was raised by a single mother. There was always a lot of love. “It was the single best family dynamic because of my mom. Everything that she did in her life was for her boys.” Abrams remained close with his mother for the rest of her life. She had epilepsy, was a chronic smoker, and developed emphysema as well as cataracts and glaucoma. He lived with her and took care of her until she passed. But despite her conditions, Abrams says “she still had a zest for life and for her boys and so she imparted that on to us.”

The Abrams boys all went on to lead quite impressive lives. This includes work as a published award winning photographer, despite being self taught, a top salesperson, a ballet dancer, and school teacher. The brothers remained close throughout their lives and family was always Abrams’ absolute top priority in life. Although it’s now just Bryan Abrams and his brother Ronnie, the two still keep in touch and Abrams has family photos around his childhood home, where he still lives today.

Save his love for his own family, it seems there is little Abrams values more than this coveted Versace wardrobe, other than the Versaces themselves and his Versace family.

“The day Gianni died, I had several phone calls in minutes.” Twenty years later, Abrams is still devastated by the death of his longtime friend and idol. Abrams says Gianni treated everyone kindly, no matter who they were and always treated Abrams incredibly. And Abrams exhibits this same feature, speaking as fondly of his friendship with Gianni’s limo driver, Cleveland, and the employees of the company as he does of Gianni and Donatella themselves.

He even still maintains his friendship with the family and company and attends each of their fashion shows by personal invitation. At each show, Abrams has a front row seat. He meets CEOs and important company people as well as celebrities. One of his fondest memories is sitting next to Elton John at a show.

Abrams is also a factor in the corporate sector for Versace headquarters, though he would never officially join the company. He was the motivator for opening the Versace store in King of Prussia mall, and also responsible for having it shut down when he disapproved of how the place was managed. Now he sticks to his favorite outlets in New York and Milan, where the store owners and employees know him on a first name basis.

Considered a sort of Ambassador for Versace, Abrams is known and remembered by many. He always stands out wearing a bright Versace shirt, causing people to inquire about the fashion and ask to take photos of him. People have remembered him a long time later after meeting him once. For years, he was a bright Versace icon in the floor seats at every Philadelphia 76ers game. He keeps in touch with the important company people and they value his opinions. On an interesting occasion, his contact information was even mixed up with a CEO.

After Versace North America hired a new CEO, also named Bryan, Abrams started getting emails from the Milan CEO, Jonathan. The emails contained sales projections and other important company information. Though the information was meant for the CEO, Abrams’ had been the go-to Bryan on Jonathan’s contact list.

Abrams loves to talk about Versace as much as he loves to wear it. He is always willing to discuss the brand, the fashion, and his love for it. In Fall semesters, he lectures about Versace and brings in parts of his collection to be photographed for Tony Ward’s Fashion Photography course at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Fun, sexiness, and overtness is Versace, and like no other. I mean, there’s others who have tried to copy him but he was and still is the king.” Abrams loves Versace for its colors, uniqueness, and the way it the fashion can make the wearer stand out. No matter the occasion, be it a fashion party or just a day in the city, Abrams can always be spotted displaying a

decadent Versace top and matching shoes. Even the license plate on his baby blue Fiat reads VERSACE.

“How you dress is who you are. It’s the first thing people look at and it determines how they see you.” And Abrams certainly dresses for who he is: Versace Man.


About The Author: Alexis Masino is a freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.  To access additional articles by Alexis Masino, go here


Also posted in Accessories, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students