The appeal of surreal photography (part II)

Further to my earlier post about the appeal of surreal photography, today I’d like to highlight the amazing work of Robert ParkeHarrison and his poignantly beautiful series titled The Architect’s Brother.

The book of the same name comes highly recommended, and was in fact named one of the “Ten Best Photography Books of the Year” in 2000 by the New York Times. (My recently ordered copy is currently winging its way to my door – yay!)

Here’s a sample image to whet your appetite:

Robert Parke-Harrison: The Architect's Brother - Cloud Burst

Cloud Burst

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Personal style or self-repetition?

When does personal style morph into self-repetition?

My query paraphrases one posed by Varga in his book Three Questions for Sixty-Five Composers, but it’s obviously equally relevant for us as photographers.

In pondering the dilemma, I was reminded of an overseas photographer whose work I followed with interest for quite some time. The photographer lived in a struggling rural settlement, home to marginalised people with few worldly goods. Their faces were furrowed with the hardships of their lived experience, and they made wonderful subjects for the photographer’s lens.

The resulting head-and-shoulder portraits were powerfully emotive, the solemn demeanour and direct unsmiling gaze of the subjects thrown into sharp relief against incongruously bright-coloured backgrounds. Technically the images were very good, and the photographer’s engagement with the subjects was clear.

The photographer’s personal style of portraiture was instantly recognisable, even from small thumbnails in mixed online galleries. So recognisable in fact, that I felt somewhat guilty when I realised I’d become bored with the work, despite its obvious merit, and I soon stopped following their portfolio. It seemed to me the photographer’s personal style had morphed into self-repetition.

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My favourite photographer?

Berenika, from Poland, is quite probably my very favourite photographer.

Her work’s remarkable – think emotive, surreal, quiet images…wistful, ethereal, melancholy pictures… imaginative compositions, beautifully executed.

As you can probably tell, I have great respect for Berenika’s art.

And there’s something extraordinarily expressive about the light in her pictures. In fact, I’ve noticed this quality in images made by other Central European photographers too, from countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic. This region produces wonderful photography.

Below are some examples of Berenika’s work… let me know what you make of them – and if you admire the images as much as I do, you can see more here.

And if Berenika’s work appeals, be sure to check out this photographer’s fabulous imagery too!