Tag Archives: Props

Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream

To define the American Dream in words is simple enough: “the perennial conviction that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded with a more comfortable present and a stronger future for their children,” writes Jon Meacham in this week’s cover story. To capture the American Dream in one image is a trickier task.

“There were so many ways to show the American Dream, from imagery of people coming over to America by boat and seeing the Statue of Liberty to the dot com era and everything in between,” says Jeff Minton, who photographed this week’s cover. “Ultimately, we went with a more simple approach—showing the perfect lawn, and letting the viewer imagine the broader implications that the picture might represent.”

That perfect lawn was actually a sod farm located about an hour outside of Los Angeles. After hoisting his camera onto a crane, Minton controlled the digital capture from a tent 40 ft. below, where he set up different vignettes with models and props within the frame of his lens. “This kind of image would have been easy to composite together with stock images,” he says. “But it seemed like such a romantic idea—much like the American Dream—to actually photograph different scenes by camera.”

Jeff Minton is a Los Angeles based photographer. See more of his work here.

MORE: Read this week’s cover story on the American Dream

Photographer #426: Chen Wei

Chen Wei, 1980, is a Chinese fine-art and conceptual photographer based in Beijing. He builds large installations to photograph. His narrative images show bizarre spaces, scenes and objects that leave the viewer wondering. Chen uses his personal memories, childhood fantasies and combines this with realities found in modern China. He assembles all the required objects in his studio and starts building his scenes. “Chen Wei illustrates an intricate imagination fascinated with the eccentric and fanciful pursuits of early science, mathematics, alchemy, philosophers and madmen.” (M97 Gallery) His work has been shown in several solo exhibitions and in a vast number of group exhibitions throughout the world. The following images come from the series Everyday, Scenery and Props, House of Recovery and The Augur’s Game.

Website: www.chen-wei.orgwww.m97gallery.com

Human Behavior: An Exploration of People Watching

The scope of humankind’s relationship with nature is the subject of a new exhibition by photographers Inka Lindergård and Niclas Holmström, on display from Nov. 5 to Dec. 17 at the Swedish Photography Gallery in Berlin. The exhibition is comprised of two series that share the same concept of human observation.

For the first series, Watching Humans Watching, the Stockholm-based duo spent the last four years capturing the dynamic between humans and nature by taking an objective approach to their subjects, much like the way landscape photographers document wild animals. Lindergård and Holmström had no interaction with the people they photographed. Each picture explores man’s disconnected relationship with nature, as if there were a wall between them and the environment. The images show people standing back, distant from the land, with some viewing nature through binoculars.

The other series, SAGA, which was developed shortly after Watching Humans Watching, deviates from pure observation and explores the natural world as mythic, foreign place from a first-person perspective. Each picture captures the artists’ imagination of nature as make-believe wilderness, which they say was stirred by stories of the supernatural wild. “[The photographs] can be seen as small building stones: sets, scenes, props and characters from an unwritten story,” say Lindergård and Holmström. “A mood board for anyone creating a fairytale.”

Together, the projects seek to present a full exploration of the relationship between people and nature. While Watching Humans Watching aims to show the physical act of human observation, SAGA offers the artists’ perspective on what is it that humans actually see and imagine when they watch nature.

Watching Humans Watching and SAGA will also be published together in a book by Kehrer Verlag later this year.

Summer ReRuns: Gillian Wearing

I ran these amazing self portraits several years ago and they are worth revisiting….

These self-portraits (yes, that’s her in every image) are from a body of work titled, Album. “Based on photos of family members when they were younger and filled with the hope and optimism of youth, the portraits seek to examine the psychological imprint that one’s family impacts upon an individual. We are all a composite of that imprint and Wearing explores in her ‘self portraits’ a depiction of this influence. Using locations, props and prosthetic devices Wearing seeks to adopt the identity of each family member, and her younger self, using the mask as a source of exploration and inspiration.”

She has a number of other intriguing series and I look forward to seeing this work in person at some point.


Self Portrait at 4




Self Portait as a teenager


Photographer #310: Lalla Essaydi

Lalla Essaydi, 1956, is a fine art photographer from Morocco. She received an MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Besides photography she uses other media as painting, film and installations. Her art often contains islamic calligraphy in combination with the representation of the female body. She addresses the complex reality of the Arab female identity. She has looked at the western painting tradition, recreating the paintings in an orientalist setting. In Les Femmes du Maroc, all the props used, including the background and the clothes, are covered in caligraphy. The calligraphy is even on the bodies of the females with the use of henna. Essaydi has exhibited extensively, is represented by numerous galleries and her work is in private and public collections. The following images come from the series Les Femmes du Maroc and Harem.

Unfortunately Lalla does not have a website. For more images go to: www.schneidergallerychicago.comwww.houkgallery.comwww.artnet.com or www.lisasettegallery.com