Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Autumn Dean/ Rineke Dijkstra

Rineke Dijkstra  is a Dutch photographer that lives in Amsterdam.  Her work is mainly focused on portraits.  She works typically in series, to show her thought process.  Her series usually show the passage of time, or a personal characteristic.  Her portraits are mostly taken with a very minimal background, with the subject standing facing towards the camera.  By taking her portraits this way the viewer is forced to focus only on her subject and not be distracted by other things if they were to be put into the picture. 
My favorite series she did is called Israeli Soldiers and the individual projects that were spawned off of the main series.  In these series she takes portraits of soldiers at different times of their lives to see the physical and mental changes in their posture and appearance.  This series I think captures what she loves most and that is the change in appearance in a person in just a short period of time.  Most of the photos of the soldiers were taken in about a two year period.  In just a half a year from when that subject is photographed you can see a dramatic change in their eyes and postures. 
In her Beach Portraits she shows the moment of adolescents right before the subjects become “aware”.  I think all of Rineke series are very powerful.  She has captured more real moments than most photographers could hope to do.  Her work is very serious and meaningful and I hope one day to be able to say as much as she has through photography.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sandi Dooley reviews Philip-Lorca diCorcia, #7

I initially looked up Philip-Lorca diCorcia's work because I have been working on a panoramic in my family room, dining area, and kitchen, where I appear at different times, wearing something different, and doing different things. Philip-Lorca diCorcia has made well known images inside the home that are interesting. 

Why are his images interesting? For one, the lighting is rather dramatic, thus creating a stage for the people, who appear lost in thought, not smiling, as they stand before an open refrigerator or sit at a breakfast bar, looking down. They do not appear busy, but alone, and sad. What could their stories be? These images are not of defining moments, but are meant to convey an ambiguous state of being or an indeterminate message of some kind, not truth. It is a more directorial approach. Mario, 1978-1979, for example, which appears in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art collection, shows a man who looks as if he is contemplating the state of his life. 

Brian, 1988, in the Museum of Modern Art collection, appears on the cover of the book accompanying the show "Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort," 1991, curated by Peter Galassi, which included daily life family photographs from Tina Barney (of her affluent family), Sally Mann (controversial images of her children), and Larry Sultan (images of his parents' daily routine). This rather different approach to social documentary photography, which is not the same as street photography, included family and friends (Photography: A Cultural History, 3rd Ed., Mary Warner, Marien, pages 464-465).  It caused me to think about what I am trying to say with the project that I am working on. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I decided I would save my favorite artist for the last entry. Not necessarily my favorite artist of all time, but currently, her use of lighting and portraiture amazes me. Jill Greenberg has quite the extensive amount of works published to her website ranging from photographs she presents in art shows all around the world to portraits published in world renown magazines and websites.

She photographs crying babies, animals, animals posed as humans, celebrities, and even politicians. Her ability to light her subjects in such a manner that they appear almost flawless or some porcelain-like qualities in their skin is appealing along with the way the subjects are posed. Her style ranges from traditional portraiture to some that look like a more straightforward in your face type of fashion photography. Even though I do not find that style of photography that breath taking, her method of approach allows me to take it in and appreciate every attention to detail- the outfits, the accessories, the lighting, and the backdrop's color. Not to mention that each of these photos are such high quality that I can imagine them being enlarged so big that they would not lose their quality. Her black and white work portion of her website/portfolio I would say I am not entirely fascinated by it, but I still admire her work.

The work I first encountered of hers was her "Glass Ceiling" series. In this series, several photos are taken from underneath at the bottom of a pool and everything is happening on top and the world outside the pool can be seen. Whether it is the distorted railing of the pool and environment immediately outside surrounding the pool, or whether it is the afternoon or evening sky. If I were to not know they were photographs I might even consider them to be photorealistic paintings.



Black and white photography is always something nice to view because in a world filled with color photography. With black and white photography, mood and tonality of the subject is usually perceived as more serious and meditative. It is also a nice way to help really push abstract what one is already trying to abstract.

Simon Chaput utilizes black and white photography with waterfalls and nude models in such a manner that the forms create different forms in themselves. For example, the waterfall photographs appear to be free forms of trees or maybe even some curtains. Some even appear to resemble the exoskeleton of what would appear to be branches of trees. Also, he extended the shutter speed to create a small motion blur with the water's movement and makes the falls appear a little more dream-like. Its intriguing when viewing these pieces because in your mind you connect the idea that it is a waterfall, but as you continue to look at the photo you start to abstract the waterfall and notice the negative space in and around the waterfall. Inspecting each black line between each streak of water and the spacing between what would normally be underlying rock.

Continuing to browse through his works, after the waterfall photos, I came across images of what I could make out to be nude models laying in a black void. They all appear to be nude women and the photos are lit and edited in such a manner to where you mostly only see a bright white, darker grey, and then the black abyss that is the remaining background. The concentrated space that is left white is like an outline but in its environment makes its own abstract line/form. With each line, depending on the model's body position, you can see the differing lines making up the human body. Would these lines still have the same effect or look as intense as they do having the rest of the body/color present? I feel the absence of the rest of the body makes these photos much stronger and more appealing to the overall composition and aesthetic of the photographs.


Autumn Dean/ Darragh Casey

Darragh Casey is an artist that is based out of London.  Originally he came from Ireland where he studied art and design.  He moved to London to complete his MA in design (furniture) but found a different practice in art that he loved, photography.  He meshes both his love for creating furniture and design with his love for photography.  His MA project was called “Shelving the Body”.  In this project he explores the connection and relationship we have with our furniture, re-evaluating the concept of the “user”. 
Darragh got the idea by his father’s obsession with adding new shelves to the walls of their house.  He decided to shoot his family while they themselves are “shelved” alongside their special possessions.  He included three generations of his family.  So it is very interesting to see what each generation holds dear to them.  Each item shelved with their person holds a sentimental value to them.  This shows the uniqueness of their lives.  His grandma for instance is shown sitting with her soda bread that she is famous for in their family.  Also the antiques show her age more than herself.  I think this is really shown by the use of her old objects sitting on a brand new modern shelf.  This portrait is in major contrast to the portrait of him and his brothers.  Darragh likes the use of humor in pieces to draw our attention to human habitual behaviors and customs.


"Mike Smith photographs the rural American Southeast in large-format color photography, exposing the unique beauty of the region and the people who call it home."

Large-format photography is more intriguing than small/medium format printing. It is not really different but the lighting and detail it is able to capture has a whole other mood to the painting. In Mike Smith's photography he photographs a more specific area of the American Southeast and pays tribute to the people that inhabit it. With each photograph, we, the viewer, are allowed to be a part of that individual's or group of individuals that make up the subject matter of each photo and get a small glimpse as to how a day in their life is like. What some might try and emulate this work with only succeeding as creating "snapshot" photography, Mike Smith is able to successfully manipulate the photos in such a manner that they are able to tell a story and still maintain that fine art side.

His collection of works have a sense of "Americana" and one can place themselves in the scene and picture themselves standing where the camera would be and imagine the scenes happening. In one of his photos near the middle of the album, there is a photo of a house in the backcountry/woods with two dogs in two different locations. One is inside a water drum and the other is behind a chicken pen pointing towards the left of the frame with his snout.


Autumn Dean/ Lucas Simoes

Lucas Simoes is a Brazilian artist and architect.  He is known for his photographs that are cut into these shapes that almost resemble a topographical map.  This series is called desretratos, which means “unportraits”.  In this series he ask some of his friends to come over to his studio and pose for a portrait while telling him a secret they have been keeping.  While they tell him their secret he listens to a song that they picked out for him.  He doesn’t really listen to their secrets, what he is trying to capture is the expression on their face while telling this very private detail to him.  Lucas also asks them after the shoot if their secret has a color, and if so what would it be.  This color becomes the portraits theme colors while the music becomes the narration of the secret.  I love how Lucas uses almost every sense to create these pieces of art.  I think when an artist can capture more than just one of these senses in their work it is a great achievement.  He also captures the changing of time when he deconstructs these portraits and cuts into them to show an evolving change in this picture.  The reason he chose to shoot his friends instead of strangers is to show that no matter how close you are with someone there is always a part of them that is new and undiscovered.  There is a mystery to every person and that is what he loves to show in this series.


I found Angela West to be quite the interesting artist. Normally when I think of photography I think of the traditional person standing in front of the lens or somewhere in the frame looking either at the camera or the cliche "deep in thought" look. Ok, maybe not that elementary but she would piece together a piece or her objects that would be her subject of the photo, shoot the photograph, and then that is the photograph. I have always found these set ups to be difficult to conceive or pull them off, but it was nice to see someone execute it so well.

One of her photos, titled "Too Much for You," is a series of postcards applied to a wall (tacked or taped) in no specific arrangement with two spots being left void from postcards. The postcards have a nice frame of negative space that provides a nice border along with the variation of different color gradients of the different postcards. The photos I found to be the most interesting and most engaging would be the one with the waterfowl and some other bird which I am not sure of the species. It appears to be a quail/pheasant but I am not familiar with the exact species. In both photos they are being hung by their legs in a single file stack going from the top of the frame to the bottom. The photo with the waterfowl is more interesting because there is evidence of blood on the fowl on the top part of the frame. The lighting used and the colors of the animals really makes the photograph stand out.



"Adopting the persona of a "housewife" in her work, Bastienne Schmidt stages carefully domestic scenes that are set in her own living room or in public spaces such as laundromats."

Viewing her "Home Stills" collection located on her artist website one can pick up on this "housewife" persona with the mood of the photos. One of the things I first identified in each of the photos was a strong presence of a vibrance of a certain hue and in each photo they differ. For example, in the first photograph of the collection, we come across a young woman standing in a field of logs and her red dress stands out. The area surrounding the woman seems to be less vibrant and less saturated with color making her dress stand out even more and gives the photo a more serious tone; a mixture of deep thought and melancholy.

Moving through the collection, we get a sense of the domestic life and the role of the mother. As I scrolled forward through the photos I ended up pausing at one where it is a mother and two small children standing before a water tank. The rest of the room is dark and their bodies are silhouetted by the soft glow from the lights inside the water tank- a nice cool blue outlines their silhouetted bodies.
One child is captivated by the fish inside the tank while the other seems to be unimpressed by the aquarium and the mother is seen reaching towards him as if to reassure him about something.


Autumn Dean/ Michael Mapes

Michael Mapes is a photographer that takes photography and turns it into a sculpture.  He is known for his portraits that are dissected into small parts and then reassembled in a way that you focus on every tiny piece as a picture in itself.  Michael is very interested in biological and forensic science.  In these portraits he shows genealogical information such as bottles with hair or fingernail clippings.  He also includes samples of the subject’s handwriting to show a more personal connection with the subject.  These portraits are put together with needles that people often use in science labs with insects.  These photographic sculptures are a great medley of the two mediums as well as their subjects, science and art. 
Michael also creates his work out of not only faces but other parts of the body as well.  In one series he uses hands and eyes as his subject.  This is to portray the Hamsa, which is a recognizable sign of protection in cultures throughout time.  With just using pictures of the hands and eyes you would think you would lose the subjects characteristics, but this is so not true.  The final composition really shows the individuals unique characteristics of the hands and eyes.  I think Michael Mapes is a genius with how articulate he is with his compositions.  It is hard to cut up a piece and then put it back together in a way that is more powerful then the original photograph.  This artist is someone to really watch in the future.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Milk- and lots of it. A lot of Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz's work has a lot to do with implementing the use of milk. I found this very interesting since I have an interest in trying to apply milk into my works. The only difference is Jaroslav has taken her use of milk in photography to a whole other level. Her level of skill, craft, and use of milk is astonishing. One of her groups of work "Milky Pinups" is just how it sounds. It uses models posed in positions like that of a pinup from the 1940-1960s would be posed with the exception of their outfits being entirely made of milk.

Its interesting to see the process and strategy needed to make something like this work. Milk being thrown in certain areas at a certain angle to achieve the desired result. In some of the photos, the models are wearing dresses (milk dresses) with varying tops and crops. Moving through her website (listed below) I journeyed my way to another group of works and came across one titled "Milk." The first few were similar to the pinup photos, but as I clicked on the "more" tab, I came across one of a Nun/Virgin Mary clothed with milk. The following is two women as samurai except in this one, the milk is colored red and blue. The Nun/Virgin Mary photo is interesting because the model herself has very dark eyebrows and black lipstick and quite the menacing glance. Was this to provide contrast with the milk? Or is there a message behind her stare and dark colors.



Holly Andres- right away I found her photos compelling. Her style of photography is a nice mixture of deadpan photography with a slight hint of fashion in some of her works. Going to her artist website listed below, right on the home page is a photograph of several side dishes with the focus being set on a small dish of jello with the text "Drink Me" on top of the jello. I was intrigued from this very moment on, and I was not sure where to click but those words being so randomly placed (randomly placed in my opinion considering I was not expecting to see that) gave me a strong feeling to want to click on them to see where it would lead me. Sure enough, it took me to her portfolio of different works. The first set I picked "Portraits" is where I got the sense of mixture of both deadpan and fashion photography. Some of the photos are set up to where I could see them in a fashion magazine or as an advertisement for a major company. Others were intriguing in the composition and the lighting used. In that same album, there is a photo titled "Mattress" which places a light underneath the car along with a stronger more prominent light on the subject on the ground all while still managing to keep the subjects in the background well lit. When looking at the photo a little bit more closely, we can see that the time of day is dusk and from a photographers standpoint, one knows that the lighting if it were natural would give off less detail in the foregrounds and silhouette them a whole lot more, but the photographer utilized her lighting in such a manner as to not fight with the lighting of the evening sky. She lit her scene ever so skillfully to have them work together in such a manner that compliments the overall feeling of the photograph.

Continuing to talk about lighting, we move on to another collection of different works and in this album it is called "Full of Grace." It was here where I really enjoyed the lighting techniques. The second photo as you scroll down titled "Grace and Nolan" is a woman standing by a night dresser holding her hands on her head in a feeling of anxiety or annoyance while a young boy is laying on his stomach and is watching what I would assume is a tv set. In this photo, there is several different light sources and each ends subtly where the other light sources begin. For example, we have an open window letting natural light in, a lamp in the corner shining its fluorescent rays throughout the room, and then the light illuminating the small child and parts of the bed. We can see hints of the different lights on varying locations throughout the room in what would seem a perfect harmony. Holly Andres does a great job positioning her subjects and utilizing her use of lighting.



Tatsuo Suzuki's photographs are compelling because of the harsh contrasts between the white and black values. In "Lensculture.com" he has an album dedicated to his work and in that collection of works only street portraits exist. Street portraits of many different people all at a very close angle. This method of shooting and the closeness of the subject to the camera or the viewer plays a very important role in the photograph. If the subjects had been shot at a more traditional portrait pose farther away from the camera and us, the viewer, the photos may not have as much an impact when we view it. Making the photos black and white also plays a crucial role in the photographs success. Having color play a part in the photo would be much too distracting. The absence of color and only leaving us to interpret color by different tones of white, grey, and black, allow us to pay more of an integral role to the photo, almost including us in the story that is being told in each photograph. Each photo has its own story and some read stronger than others, but the one that caught my attention was #15 of 24. We as the viewer can see the shadows between each strand of hair of the man's beard and his eyes have a weird glaze to them. The overall sharpness of the photo is very successful, and the subjects placement of being off to the left of the frame works well. Even though the photo is unbalanced, his shoulder and the background to the right of him, which is out of focus, helps balance the overall photo quite nicely.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sandi Dooley Reviews "Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers", #6

I recently viewed the documentary "Dark Light: The Art Of Blind Photographers" on HBO, which was directed and co-produced by Neil Leifer and Corrine Marrinan, and features Pete Eckert, Bruce Hall, and Henry Butler. These three blind photographers show that concept and visual planning are more important than mere sight.

Pete Eckert has Retinitis Pigmentosa. On his website, Pete Eckert, he describes being trained in sculpture and industrial design; he was planning to study architecture at Yale. He began to go blind at the age of 27. It took over ten years. In one part of the movie, he is shown in a restaurant using a Braille altered analog light meter, checking the values inside and outside, while always being aware of the direction he is facing. The expertly planned resulting pictures have an airy, dreamlike quality. In another part of the movie, he describes light painting a woman. He knows exactly where she is while he is painting, by listening to the sound bounce around her while he is talking. He talks about using reflected light and has no doubt planned all of the details, including metering the light behind the woman.

Bruce Hall has taken pictures underwater for 25 years, and is an expert diver, even though he is almost completely blind. He was born with an optic nerve that never fully developed. He describes being able to see only shapes and color, and memorizing the exact placement of the underwater camera controls. He says that "you have to have it down so well that you forget about it". Hall can see enough of the resulting images to enjoy them when they are blown up. His images are so good that National Geographic has published his work several times. His online portfolio of his autistic sons, Visual Summit Gallery,  particularly interested me, because it shows a sensory oriented view of the world that defies verbal explanations. Leifer describes Hall taking pictures of his sons as being like "capturing chaos and collisions that are out of control", and that he is "taking pictures of autism itself". 

Henry Butler, who was born blind, photographs people. He is shown talking to them, telling them he is blind, asking if he can take their picture, and asking them to talk about themselves. He describes the art of taking pictures of people as "back and forth" interaction. The people in his pictures seem amazingly genuine. He says that he enjoys the improvisational part of photography much like he enjoys playing the piano. According to the biography on his website, Henry Butler Bio, his photos "continue to be exhibited nationally and internationally and appear in major newspapers across the country".