Lens Culture Review from submission.

Dear Spid, thank you for your submission to LensCulture. It is a pleasure to review your images.

I see these are entered in the "single image" category, and I'm impressed with the range of style and content I see from one image to the next. Each image is made at the highest professional standard, which is a testament to your skill level in the areas of technical precision, styling, design, lighting, and model selection. This certainly makes my job as a reviewer challenging, frankly, because I really only have accolades to offer you as feedback about the portraits, which does not help you. 

Rather than focusing on the typical assessment of your images, I thought I'd address your concern listed in the "additional info" section. I see you have a desire to transition into full-time fine art photography and away from your commercial practice, which is a challenging and admirable goal. The search for purpose in the service of this endeavor is the formidable challenge, in my view, because it requires a shift in how you approach the craft of photography. Based on the work I see above, I see your connection to issues like identity, in light of your brother's battle with illness. I see identity crop up in the images related to the number ten, and with image 5, specifically, I see an interest in Maori people. 

I've also noticed a link between successful fine art practice and inherent contrast in the work. This isn't a question of technique, but rather contrasting elements. Image 2 holds this property, as we see a homeless man presented in a dapper, well groomed manner. That internal contrast between poverty and self care is the contrast that will help your images resonate with viewers. I find myself wondering if there is promise for a series based off of this work. 

While I cannot identify your purpose for you, and I know that's not what you are asking of me, I can certainly see the seeds of concept in many of your images that push them well beyond the descriptive and creative purpose that they are meant to serve in the commercial world. Essentially, I think your purpose is close at hand, and I do hope you pursue your goal of being a full-time artist. Once you know what you want to communicate, I have total faith that you will be able to create masterful photographs illuminating your ideas and concepts.

My initial thought is to suggest you research David LaChapelle's career. His commercial record is undoubtedly impressive, and he also maintains a thriving and celebrated fine art practice. While many of his tableaux portraits of celebrities have graced the walls of world famous museums, I can't help but think of his "Earth Laughs in Flowers" series (https://guyhepner.com/david-lachapelle-earth-laughs-flowers/) and his "Aristocracy" series (http://museemagazine.com/features/2017/10/6/the-archives-david-lachapelle), both of which turned to objects for symbolism, rather than portraits. While I have not researched specifically how these works fit within the scope and chronology of his career, I think it's telling that his most concept-rich work deviated from portraiture altogether. This seems fairly remarkable because of his career as a portrait photographer, but I find myself wondering if a shift toward still life (or any other genre) was important to LaChapelle in his goal to carve out a space to thrive within conceptual, contemporary fine art. This is perhaps the long way of saying that if the familiarity of your commercial subject matter is standing in the way of evolving your ideas, then perhaps shift away from portraiture initially and see if that switch makes a difference as you work to identify your purpose and goals in your fine art practice.

You make beautiful work. I wish you well as you pursue your goals, and thank you again for your submission. I'll link you to some resources below that I hope you'll enjoy.

Spid PyeComment