There have been two major impacts on the portrait: photography and psychoanalysis.
In the 19th century photography removed the need for painting to provide documentary evidence of people. It took over the job of making likenesses or representations. It was believed that photography provided an objective truth and it quickly became the favoured method of identification.
In the 20th century psychoanalysis introduced the idea that people were not books to be judged by their cover as was the case in the practice of Phrenology.
The combined effect of these two things brought about a huge shift in art generally and especially the position of the artist.
Artists began to express themselves onto the canvas even in portraiture. They also attempted to express the inner soul and character of their subjects. Usually with self-conscious, gestural marks. This slightly misguided, even arrogant, endeavour continued until the 50's, however there are some artists who still pursue this idea.
I see the way I work as a sort of return to the forensic interrogations of the early phrenologists, however in contrast to them I am not attempting to convey the inner workings of my subject's mind or his character. Moreover many of my works do not represent a particular person. They are composites of several people from magazines, photography books, my own snapshots or from memory. Indeed many of the sources for the images of boys are from fashion images and art photography of girls.
It is the audience who provide the personality, character and a narrative for the images.