Claude Hankins

Thomas Gordon

Without question, the mugshot is a dominant “genre” in American photography. Least Wanted, aka Mark Michaelson, has released a book of his collected mugshots, Danny Lyon is fascinated by them, I’ve been seduced from time to time.

Arne Svenson is another artist who has put together mugshots (this time from the 19th century) to make a book. Svenson is a portraitist and his art is more complex when his collected mugshots and his headshots of forensic dummies & sock monkeys are considered alongside one another.


“Svenson’s first book entitled Prisoners came about after the discovery of a collection of turn of the century glass plate negatives from Northern California recording convicted criminals as classic frontal and profile mug shots. He lovingly printed these negatives, bringing the subjects alive, and painstakingly researched each of their stories.” (Source)

Elliott Peterson

W.M. Heron


Svenson spent four years traveling around the country to coroner’s offices and law enforcement agencies photographing forensic identification aids in a classic portraiture style. Twin Palms Publications will publish a book of this work, entitled Unspeaking Likeness, in 2010.

© Arne Svenson


Unsurprisingly, the public and the market love Svenson’s 200 Sock Monkey portraits.

Sock Monkey #1761, 2001, Gelatin Silver Print. © Arne Svenson

See more at Jan Kesner Gallery