In border contexts, the photographic narrative of migrations relies on an iconography of the migrant subject which is essentializing and neutralizing, both from a securitarian and a humanitarian perspective. The camera turns out to be a surveillance camera, acting as yet another control device that objectifies and imposes its specific dominance view. In this work – starting from a reflection on ethnographic fieldworks in european and externalised borders (Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Sicily) – we offer a critical view to the hegemonic narrative on migrations, and propose an alternative representation: the visual-anthropological option of the portrait, photographic and biographic, allows to go beyond the visual subjugation of the subject and favors, instead, a counter-visuality of migration, taking into account the migrant autorepresentation, the emic point of view, the prevalence of a “horizontal” line of sight, and the production of a shared ethnographical frame. Within contexts dominated by violence and violation of human rights, the camera is rethought as an instrument of ethnographic relationship, able to impact the social reality by imprinting on visual anthropology an applied and transformative dimension. By fusing the linguistic and the visual communicative models, the portrait can give back to the subjects a visible agency, built through a meaningful dense image, which moves and gives sense to migration mobilities and mobilizations.