The creative representation of the human image is one of the most instinctual forms of creative expression. From the pre-historic cave painters of southern France to the early primitive ceramicists of the Fertile Crescent creative people have had a fascination with the human figure and in particular the human face.

This creative instinct was given a greater immediacy with the invention of the camera through which anyone can instantly capture the image of their fellow man or woman. Here-to-fore this was the exclusive preserve of those who possessed an extensive degree of creativity, training and the designated as ‘an artist’.

Today everyone is an artist – or are they? True, the technological sophistication of the modern d-SLR ensure a high degree of technical aptitude without the need for a similar degree of technical understanding and any photographer can produce a good quality image. But what is required to produce a great image or portrait? How does someone capture the spirit of the subject – their unique individuality? How can a photographer demonstrate the emotional state of mind of a subject or even provide an insight into the subconscious world of that subject?

A talented creative portrait photographer is not just a recorder – a chronicler of a person in a given space or time. The gifted ones can apply their imaginations to a subject showing them in a light or mood or setting that we never imagined and in so doing opening wonderfully imaginative vistas for the interested viewer.

The Expressions Art Portrait Photography Competition and Exhibition is an ideal opportunity to explore these questions and showcase the work of such creative portrait photographers. Through the magic of the world-wide-web photographers from countries as disparate as Mexico and Israel have had an opportunity to show their work to photographers in Longford and ultimately through exhibition on the website to interested viewers all over the world.

It is not surprising that the Expressions initiative should emerge from Longford as this town has had a camera club since the late 19th century. The county currently has two large active camera clubs, the county also boasts Ireland’s largest Schools Photography Programme and the Midland College of Photography provides on-going photography training to aspiring photographers from the entire Midlands region.

On behalf of the County Arts Office I wish to congratulate Shelley Corcoran, Angelika Szymka and the extremely hard working Expressions Committee for making this initiative a reality and I look forward to witnessing the future evolution of this excellent creative project.