As I entered my teenage years, a life long interest in paintings awakened, by classical artists more than modern (except for Escher and Mondrian). Over the years I have seized every opportunity, when traveling to world capitals, to visit their national galleries. Like most people, my tastes have evolved. For the longest time, for example, I would gravitate towards the each gallery’s Impressionists paintings. In the last decade or so, though, it is the early Dutch Masters, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Hendrick Terbrugghen which capture my time and attention.
Inevitably I am drawn, as a photographer, to try to create images that emulate the works of an artist from that time period (roughly 1500-1700). Of course, the photographic medium produces much sharper works than an artist’s paint brush could depict (excluding Photo Realism paintings). However, I can still strive to duplicate the mix of colour and shadow which so marks the works of those Dutch Masters.
In the following images, Kendra is depicting an imaginary young lady from that time period, Elsje de Graff, living in Leiden in the year 1628. She is married to an important and wealthy merchant and dresses appropriately for her station. (I hasten to add that my actual knowledge of that time period, and its fashionable clothing, is almost nil, so that much of our creation is imagined and not based upon fact.)
The Cabaret Series
In this series of images, I imagine the interior of a smoky cabaret, in Berlin circa 1930. The model, Kendra, appears in various roles. Smoky black and white images provide the atmosphere. Who is the girl? What is her story? How did her life’s journey bring her to this moment, in time and place? What will happen to her in the next decade or so?
The imagined dim and smoky atmosphere of the cabaret is emphasized by presenting the images in Black and White. Somehow colour just doesn’t have the same feel:
But sometimes colour really fits:
Trying to emulate the great masters of earlier periods has led to, courtesy of Amazon and China, purchases of “period” costumes (whose primary use, I am sure, is for Halloween parties). The dress in this series is advertised as Medieval. Of course, none of this is historically accurate because of the difficulty of finding, let alone the expense of acquiring, period accurate clothing
Lady of the Manor
Fun With Fur
Black and White
Here I am trying to recreate the look of those photos, of famous movie stars of the 1940’s and 1950’s, which were used on posters and sent to fans.
The photos of that time were taken using specialty lights, equipped with Fresnel lenses that could not only precisely focus the light on the face but also vary the sharpness of the light spot, and wide aperture camera lenses that had very narrow depths of field. Typically the photos would be blurred around the edges with only a small sliver of the face in sharper focus.
For this next photo I am unable to decide which I like the best, the Black and White or the Colour: