A photographic portrait is what draws many of us to photography, be it a family snapshot or a heavily constructed picture taken in a studio with all the trimmings.
Portraits are central to what makes photography so compelling, offering us a glimpse of our own past, drawing up long-forgotten moments or a glance at the lives of others.
Whatever the limits of the camera are, for the most part, you can say that a picture shows something that once was.
Mix that with our need to interpret the faces and poses we see in pictures, and good portraits come alive.
That's the magic of photography, whereby a still and silent image can evoke far more than any moving pictures with sound ever will.
A competition that focuses on this is, as the name suggests, the Portrait Salon and on Thursday, 29 November 2012, it is holding simultaneous projections at four venues across the country.
The judges, Karen Newman from Open Eye Gallery, Hat Margolies from Lucid Rep, and photographer Dan Burn-Forti, selected the pictures to be shown from 1,110 entries.
As you would expect, there are some cracking pictures on show.
Portrait Salon was formed last year and describes itself as a form of Salon des Refuses - an exhibition of works rejected from a juried art show - that aims to showcase the best of the rejected images from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, which is organised annually by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG).
As the founders of Portrait Salon, Carole Evans and James O Jenkins write in the newspaper-style catalogue that accompanies the show, the idea began as an experiment and was not intended to upset or disrupt the Taylor Wessing, but to allow those whose work did not make the walls of the NPG another outlet.
They write: "We want to give exposure to those great images that for one reason or another don't make the cut but still deserve recognition."
Add to this judge Karen Newman's remarks about the subjective process the act of judging is, and you get a truly delightful mix of pictures on show.
You can see a few of them below and if you'd like to see the projection, details can be found on the Portrait Salon website or follow them on Twitter.