A project I have been working on for years is about to make it’s debut. On February 17th 2017, my Landscapes of the Body project will be shown at VSA Gallery in the Santa Fe Art District in Denver. This is a show not a sale, the images will be on display through the end of March 2017 in celebration of the Month of Photography. Here is the story:
Six years ago, I was asked by my photography teacher to shoot a portrait for a class assignment. My first thought was set up two big soft boxes and do a headshot… simple and easy. However, because of my vision I was not able to see the model’s face, and I found it very difficult to interact with them. Since it was impossible for me to tell when the person was smiling, or had their eyes closed I soon became frustrated with photographing people because they move. A bottle of soda doesn’t blink or move out of the frame and you get consistent results from frame to frame. People became a mystery to me until I sat down and thought about what makes a portrait, the definition of a portrait is: “a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.” So since I was clearly unable to accomplish this, I set out on an exploration of the defining attributes of a portrait. My thinking was that a part of a person’s body can be just as identifying as any other part. A guitar player’s hands are recognizable to their fans, so I set out on exploring hands. In the first example shot here I chose to juxtapose the rough carpenter hands with the butterfly model. Yes, selective color I know – it was so six years ago.
This shot felt a bit ill-conceived, trying to make a fine art photo out of a cheesy selective color mess, but it got me on my way to where I landed eventually. From here, I moved to a series I called working hands, which included chefs hands, gamer’s hands, athlete’s hands and more. I stuck with the flat lighting focusing on the subject and making sure it was evenly lit.
I just never hit the look I was looking for, until I started exploring and practicing low key imagery. The image that set me towards the path for this project ended up being a low key photo taken in my living room of my son’s Bearded Dragon. I immediately fell in love with the sharp defining light on the lizards face, and noticed that the image closely related to my remaining vision. The majority of the frame is black just like my sight. From there, I ran headlong into creating a body of work of people which does not feature faces, in the abstract close-up low key style.
The online portfolio for the project can be found at http://www.bodyscapes.photography/ I hope any of my blog readers can come and enjoy this debut showing. You can read all about the show at the upcoming shows link. My goal is to redefine perceptions of art created by the visually disabled. The collection is body-positive and features male and female models ranging in age from 19 to 66 in a variety of ethnicity and body sizes from petite to plus size.