Back to school, September 1, 2014

I am a coward. I avoid confrontations, I run away from the truth… I guess product photography was an obvious choice for me. It is a different realm, a perfect world where everything has to be flawless and beautiful. It does not call for social change; it does not show emotional turbulences; it doesn’t want to change the world. It creates its own world: flaw-free, perfect world (you guessed it: my favorite tools in Photoshop are healing brush and clone stamp).

Work of Martin Parr (www.martinparr.com) comes to my mind. So poignant, it shows the reality I want to close my eyes to. This is the world we live in. This is the world I want to escape from.

Little wonder then, when time came to choose a project for Directed Studies program this fall (which I take at West Valley College under a guidance of a wonderful Brian Tramontana, www.briantramontana.com) I decided on purely esthetic study, this time of a portrait: not a character study, not capturing an emotion: a study of beauty and harmony via portraiture.

I could reference a long list of artist, starting with sublime Greek and Byzantine orthodox iconography, early work of Italian renaissance, great masters of northern European paintings… and they all collectively are equally important inspiration for my vision. But if I wanted to distil my inspiration to only one image, I think it would be this one:  a profile of a woman by Rodney Smith. It does have it all: beauty, peace, harmony. And yes, it does invoke renaissance portraiture of Italian quattrocento (maybe it is the hair cloth or maybe the nose :-).

Portrait of a woman by Rodney Smith

Portrait of a woman by Rodney Smith

Whole body of Rodney Smith’s work (www.rodneysmith.com) gives the feel of being on the other side of the mirror, in the magical and strangely weird (hence fascinating) world of Wonderland and for the moment we are all Alice. (Nota bene: not everyone knows that the great Lewis Carroll himself was an accomplished photographer. However, the number of photographs he took of underage girls causes some to think his motives were more than artistic, but other researchers point out that this was well within Victorian era cult of innocence and that there was nothing kinky going on. I guess we will never know).

Creating through my photographs a world that is equally captivating and enchanting as Rodney's is my dream. So, during the next couple of months I will try my own take on the portrait and my vision of esthetics, harmony and beauty. I will keep you posted.