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Lensculture Submission – Series Category by Ingrid Gielen

Reviewer Feedback


Hello Ingrid. I chose your portfolio of images for review because I find them visually and conceptually interesting. I feel like this is very much a cohesive series based on the psychological struggles that many people experience. You provide an insightful statement that says, “i 'm always in contact with people struggling with their thoughts and emotions. With this project i tried to express these thoughts in pictures. I wanted to make it recognizable for each of us, because everyone has moments in live in which they struggle with their thoughts.”

I have taken some time to study your photos, looking for visual clues that communicate ideas and exploration into the human mind. And, clearly you have found and created subject matter that lends itself to that goal! You continue, by saying, “I use a diptych for each thought, one expresses the state of the mind for which i used common objects, the other expresses the state of the body, where the model takes different postures under a cloth. I used the same - unrecognizable- model in each pictures- so he became part of the object. I experimented with different light settings but finally choose for natural light because of its soft effect.”

The result is a collection of imaginative images that express the emotional power you brought to their conception and creation. In the photos there is a sense of being trapped or stuck in one’s own life, a feeling of being trapped, where escape isn’t possible. The diptychs format you use is perfect for what you are trying to express…a kind of view from both the inside and outside. The photos are deeply rooted in visual interpretations of internal struggles and emotions.

The whole idea of using this diptych is working really well because you are establishing a relationship between two images that communicate something about the mind that each individual image can’t. It is an opportunity to incorporate metaphors and symbolism that you most connect with, while at the same time holding true to the ideas you wish to communicate. The photos are illustrative yet talk about being documentary in nature. You have created new worlds that invite the viewer to come in and experience these overwhelming emotions.

Every one of the photos seems like a capture of an intimate experience within a larger story. A sense of the theatrical comes through since all your photos seem like still-frame photos taken from movie (a movie playing in the mind). The photos are conceptually rich and meaningful. One of the first things I see beyond the character in the images is the overall visual presentation. There is a thread that runs throughout the groups of images. The images are presented in a way in which it appears the viewer is looking in at scene, from the outside. The viewer sees scenes lit theatrically, as if upon a stage. The photos are full of color, yet luminous because of their white backgrounds, making them appear as though the photos were captured from dreams, visions, or purely in the imagination.

An interesting quality of your work is how it crosses the lines between art, narrative, and visual poetry. Your images strike me as illustrating a lot of ideas having to do with issues of identity, the human mind and the expression of emotional states. I see the photos as studies of alluring stories of the human body, mind, and spirit. For example, I see ideas around identity and the universal struggle between one’s light and shadow sides. Each pair incorporates two versions of the same person, locked in a battle with the darkness (within the fabric) and the light outside the fabric. The subject expresses a sense of hopelessness that all viewers can identify with. These images expresses evocative emotional and psychological states could all be in some way qualities you may want to discuss further in your statement. I will also point out that in none of the photos are the subjects looking at or acknowledging the viewer. Because of this, for most of the images the viewer is looking in from outside the veil, onto intimate, critical moments in this subject’s life.

The photos seem posed and directed, yet completely candid and natural. The luminous colors, expressiveness, and performances in the photos add a sense of dream-like environments and emotional depth. Together, the lights, mid-tone shadows, and rich, projected skin-tones serve to elicit dramatic emotional responses in the viewers. For me, the images are powerful in a group, but they are also beautiful as individual photos.

One of the things that speaks to your viewers, throughout your portfolio, is the way that design and composition become primary subjects within the frame. For example, all your images are visually dynamic and could also be viewed in terms of photographic design. Your cropping, editing, and positioning of subjects in the frame is very purposeful. The position of the subject in the frame creates an aesthetic tension. And within the design the subjects are performing roles. It is clear the personas you capture in the photos are very important characters in your stories!

Since these can all be viewed as portraits of the mind they also talk about how the subjects may experience these alluring mental states as part of their own identity and are, in fact, performing them. The performances are authentic and dramatic. In addition, the performances of identity are enhanced by the brightness of the atmosphere and application of a slight vignette of darkness in the photos. The quality of light and tonal contrast, when combined with mostly directional lighting supports a sense of drama. All the photos appear to use a directional light that makes the subjects look like they are surreal, multi-dimensional people.

In your compositions you isolate the subjects within their surroundings places importance on the photographic frame. Without those boundary elements the composition could not be contained or defined. Part of the magic of these images is what you have chosen to include in the frame and all the elements in the surrounding environment you deliberately leave out. Everything in the design of these images seems deliberate.

One thing you might relate to is the idea of Mise-en-scène, which Wikipedia defines as, “an expression used to describe the design aspect of film production, which essentially means "visual theme" or "telling a story"—both in visually artful ways through storyboarding, cinematography and stage design, and in poetically artful ways through direction.” But it also has to do with the atmosphere created by light and shadow. Image number 2 is getting at this idea of communicating something moody and atmospheric.

Mise-en-scène may help you think about specifically how the background contributes to the ideas in each photo and the atmsphere you could create that would contribute to the model, the lighting, the expression and the overall mood of the photo. In this regard, the backgrounds you choose or create perfectly support the expressions of the people in the portraits.

I can imagine these photos printed large, to inspire feelings of “awe” by creating a sense of scale for the viewer. Large-scale presentation could prompt the viewer to feel small when confronted by the ideas of standing in front of these emotive compositions. Viewers would feel confronted with unexpected perspectives and that could inspire creative interpretations. And, their emotional impact could be breathtaking.

These photos are full of mystery and expressive emotions!

Your photos exhibit a high degree of talent! Your images and your project are very thought provoking, mysterious, and creative. They are full of stories waiting to be discovered! I would strongly encourage you to keep pursuing your ideas. But, look at lots of portfolios that can provide inspiration and creative energy for future projects. I very much enjoyed looking at your photos and I appreciate the way your images are masterfully considered and carefully designed. I hope this review sufficiently addressed your concerns and I hope it is helpful. I look forward to seeing what you will do next!

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