In portrait photography there is a tradition to take portraits in exceptional conditions to achieve a special image. For example Philippe Halsman, who asked celebrities to jump for a portrait in order to avoid traditional poses. Or Marjaana Kella, working on the presentability of the unconscious, by putting her subjects into a hypnotic trance.
Likewise it is very popular to take a portrait of humans directly after great stress to disclose new unknown faces in front of the camera.
A probably well-known example of this kind of portrait photography is Rineke Dijkstras “Matador-Series”: The series shows Portuguese bull fighters directly after the fight – with blood and dirt smeared faces. Lotte Reimanns series “Faustkampf” (fistfight) follows a similar procedure: Young female boxers, exhausted and sweating, are photographed instantly after a fight. Both series deal in different manners with gender roles.
The photographer Sandy Nicholson examines in his series “2nd: The Face of Defeat” in which state an extreme situation leaves us behind. The work shows portraits of runners-up in various competitions after the match. Matthias Willi is interested in a similar aspect. His series “The moment after The Show” shoots rock stars right after the concert.
Based on the assumption that photography can only display surfaces, all these works perform amazingly well. Maybe the visible codes and subcodes of facial expression and gesturing obtain cracks and distortions under exceptional conditions which can lead to something special, if the photographer succeeds to use them in a creative style.