PDN Photo of the Day

Cabinet Cards

Over the course of three days, Allison Michael Orenstein photographed 18 performers and artists who added their own unique flavor to each portrait. The series, “Cabinet Cards,” is based on a style of photographs from the 1870s, where a thin photographic print was mounted on a card (approximately 4×6 inches). The photographer’s studio and contact info was traditionally printed on the back of the card. In today’s world, where images widely exist in digital form, Orenstein is using her personal portrait series to promote her work via email and on her website.

Cabinet Cards” is a collaboration with Orenstein’s art director friend Signe Mae Olson. The idea to reinvent this old-timey form of portraiture came from Olson, who, according to Orenstein, came up with the idea after another shoot with a performer “didn’t work out. I wanted to turn lemons into lemonade,” Orenstein tells PDN via email. “We both emailed around to find subjects willing to participate. It was super fun to see what each person came with to the studio.” Together, Orenstein and Olson produced and photographed 18 unique portraits over the course of three days.

Orenstein is a portrait photographer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in multiple publications including Vanity Fair, Esquire, BlackBook, New York Magazine, Vogue, Real Simple and Bloomberg Markets. Orenstein was also a 2014 winner of PDN Faces contest for her portrait of Tim Conway for The Wall Street Journal.


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