Continuing with Abstract Portraits

I have written already about exploring what a photograph is, and what is a portrait.  Continuing to look into the work of Sally Mann I decided to do a series of myself to add on to this continuing on this path of looking into myself in the project. I originally included this in the first post about abstract portraits, but I wanted to include it on its own.

San Diego Botanical Gardens Visit

I have Lived in San Diego County for nearly 7 years now, and there is always still so much to explore.  I have meant to go to the Botanical Gardens for a while now.  Being there on a warm Monday afternoon was amazing, this place is extremely calm and peaceful, small streams flow through the landscapes and birds sing in the trees.  My journey started at the bamboo garden, bamboo is to me somehow a relaxing plant, learning that the San Diego zoo aquires much of its panda feed from the garden is also a very interesting thing to know.  As i wondered through the property I became very interested in the mexican garden with the terra-cotta planters with succulents and faces of dancers.

I have over the last several months began to question exactly what photography means to me, through this i have begun to explore the abstract in photographic imagery, shooting out of focus, or shooting very small portion of things and zooming the lens while shooting a subject.  Plants are a good way to explore this, they do not move and are often very colorful to bring interest into the colors.  I explored this a lot on this trip, looking for vibrant colors and interesting shapes over what the subject was.

Also I found the wooden Japanese Spirit Houses interesting was well, some how these went back to my wood project and may be included in that later on. I attempted to recreate the feeling I had while looking at these.  They are so small, bird house like but so deep in attention to detail.  They are weather worn but still standing strong protecting the ancestors spirits.

Photobook Proposal

As part of this class I wanted to explore differing ideas of photography.  I throughout the semester while creating photographic images that are sharp and focused, I also explored some techniques in abstracting images.  Trying to push my self more as a photographer.  I have began looking at the painterly photographic work of Michael Orton, and the soft dreamlike, and sometimes scary images of Sally Mann.  I also returned to some of my roots as a painter, and looked back to the color fields of Mark Rothko and other abstract expressionist.

I have wanted to start thinking differently about photography, moving from just the image to high art.  I started as a photographer in portraits years ago so i though that one of my first things to change should be portraits.  Recalling the work of Sally Mann, I started creating my own series of Faces.

Sally Mann Inspiration

All Images Copyright Sally Mann

Recently I have been looking closely at the work of Sally Mann, an artist that works in a wet plate techniques known as ambrotype.  The above pictures are from the faces series that that she created after an inury.  This piece I find extremely interesting, its elevated something I have always been interested the portrait to a new level.

All of Mann’s work has that dark other worldly feeling that i enjoy so very much.  And the changing of the portrait to a new level is quite amazing.  So I decided to work on this in my own work a little, avoiding some of the long learned rules of portrait framing and focus, etc.

Mann also has a series called battle fields that with out realizing it I was greatly inspired by in a recent project that I have been calling tentatively The Wood Project, all though the title is very subject to change, and more than likely will in the near future.  These haunting images are something I only briefly looked at before but the influence can be seen.

Sally Mann from Battlefields

Don Bartletti

image Copyright Don BartlettiHaving the opportunity to attend Mr. Bartletti’s lecture was very informative in many ways.  All though he talked little about techniques his passion for the photographic imageis unmistakable.  He created profound images of mexican farm workers.  Much of this was heart breaking he found the light in the people that was still remaining.  Through exceptional framing and composition he is able to tell a story.  Also his bravery and willingness to get into situations that could possibly be dangerous create the scene that could really be able to get close and learn this story.

The story of Alejandria was exceptionally compelling and you could tell that this child and her family touched Don in a special way.  All her life was work, unable to attend school, and very fewfriends yet she still managed to have some moments of joy.  In America we often take for gImage  Copyright Donbartlettiranted that are children are allowed to be children, and there is no reason for us to not try and provide these lives for those in countries less fortunate than us.  Strangely enough it did make me think it was not long ago that American children often left school prior to high school, or attended no school at all because they were needed to help support the family.  In our country it took a lot of hard work by some very dedicated people to turn America into what it is now.

Perhaps through work like Bartletti’s this can be a start of change in Mexico.  It was not until authors like Upton Sinclair started to create a change in the United States, so maybe with an american bringing attention to the problems in Mexican labor there will be a passionate Mexican author who creates the modern Mexican Jungle.

Please View Don Bartletti’s series here.