Photo gallery: William Coupon’s “Social Studies” works

Although best known for soulful celebrity portraits such as those that have appeared on 20 Time Magazine covers, William Coupon has long been photographing non-celebrities as part of an expansive, career-long personal project he’s dubbed “Social Studies.” These photographs feature a wide range of indigenous people as well as groups such as Death Row inmates, punk rockers, and other regular folk. “Although I have made a good living photographing celebrities throughout my career, I have always sought out ‘commoners’ or ‘ordinary’ people for my personal work,” says Coupon, 70. “I have tried to find the allure in the ordinary with these photographs.” As opposed to celebrities, the typical subjects he’s sought out for his personal work are more mysterious, more spontaneous.“They are raw, partly because they don’t have the burden of trying to ‘be someone,’“ says Coupon. In most instances he has spent his own money traveling to photograph his “Social Studies” portraits and hopes they will be published in book form soon.“They’ve allowed me to challenge myself and produce photography that extends the range of my work,” he explains. “They are a personal investment that has already paid off.”RELATED: William Coupon’s facial obsessionRobert Kiener is a writer in Vermont.