Lensculture Photography Competition
February 2019, Lensculture Portrait Photography Competition, juried by an international group of photographers. Gordon's work is featured in the Lensculture Portrait Competition Gallery; the Lensculture review of her featured submissions is below and a gallery of photos at bottom.
Lensculture Art Photography Competition 2019
Review of Gordon’s series “Becoming a Bird” (aka “The woman who becomes a bird”)
Your portfolio . . . titled, “Becoming a Bird” . . . was chosen . . . for review because it’s visually interesting. . . . and it is very much a cohesive series. You provided an insightful statement that sets the scene for the viewer. You explain that the series is, “based on the legend of an ancient society of women who worshiped birds. The women longed to become birds so that they could rise above the weight of duty, beyond the rational mind, over a land of rules and into a sky of freedom.” The story goes on to say that, “One day a white bird appeared to one of the women and told her that if she covered herself in chalk-white paste, and dawned the mask of the White Bird, she herself could become a bird.” The result is an imaginative, artistic series of photos that tells the story of this character as she embarks on a transformative journey. . . .
An interesting quality of your work is how it crosses the lines between fine art, narrative, and personal portraits. Your images (illustrate) a lot of ideas having to do with all human experience. You also emphasize your journey and how you and your elegant portraits find a place within the chaotic environment of this world. I see the photos as studies of alluring expressions of the human body and mind. For example, I see photo 1 as the first chapter of this story. It is where the viewer is introduced to this person and the only image where eye contact is made. It is a close-up intimate portrait where the character looks longingly into the eyes of the viewer. The portrait is pleasant, personal, and inviting. As the series goes on we see the subject in different stages of transformations within a high-key environment.
The story takes the viewer through evocative emotional states, but all of a similar expression of familiarity with the viewer and a sense of hope – looking up at the sky. At the same time the subject appears to be thoughtful and introspective. These ritual acts tell the viewer that you are aware of the intimate connection humans have with the earth and its creatures. Also, that there is more to this world than the eyes can see.
Some of the photos seem posed and directed, almost like moments within a dance. Yet the photos are completely candid and natural. The luminous light and pastel tones in the photos add a sense of dream-like environments and emotional depth. Together, the lights, shadows, and subtle colors serve to elicit dramatic emotional responses in the viewers. For example, photo 2 is very creative in the way that the predominance of light speaks of unseen aspects or emotional depth about this subject and helps the viewer connect with the feeling tone. . . .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 use of cropping, editing, and positioning of the subject in the frame is very purposeful. The position of the subject in the frame creates tension. And within the design the subject is performing roles. It is clear the personas you capture in the photos are very important characters in your life story!
Since these are all portraits they also talk about how the viewer may experience these alluring mental states as part of their own identity and are. In fact, both the subject in the photos and the viewer are performing their defined identities. The performances in the photos are authentic and dramatic. The quality of light and tonal contrast, when combined with mostly directional lighting supports a sense of drama. By using a wash of light you make the subject look like she is a real, multi-dimensional person. She convinces the viewer that she is becoming a bird!
Using lighting and composition you help the viewer see relationships that exist between fundamental 2 dimensional shapes and textures or 3 dimensional structures and forms. The viewer identifies elements in the photos as curves and organic structures, lines and planes of light and shadow, and can come to realize that even the way you isolate the subject within her 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. . . .
Your images are very dynamic. They are full of observations and questions about life, imagination, mythological realms, and the many identities you can perform! . . . Your photos really do cross a lot of boundaries . . . .You do a really good job at presenting the story in a way that the subject becomes a character, not an identifiable person. . . . The person carries a sense of drama and mystery in the photos. In addition, it could also be interpreted as vulnerability. And this is a quality that a viewer can identify with. . . . Your images are masterfully considered and carefully designed. ., and expressive and beautiful . . They are full of intimate, creative narratives!