Category Archives: Portraiture

Joy Bao: Habitat

Photography by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020

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HABITAT

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noun

  the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

  informal: a person’s usual or preferred surroundings.

The dictionary told me these are the definitions of “habitat.”

I found the word surprisingly fitting for the photo shoot, as the location itself is never quite the habitat for anybody. The room is located in my friend’s home, who also modeled for the project. It is not her or the other girl’s habitat, because it is the “animal room;” however, this room is also not a habitat for an animal, as it is man-made and not “natural,” and the shorthair cat is a type of domestic animal.

What we express emotionally, most of the time, largely depends on the environment around us. With a seemingly natural yet slightly off daily-life setting, I hope to achieve a gradation not only of human emotions, but also artificiality in terms of the project itself. Having the two models making relatively obvious and dramatic facial expressions while standing beside a cat tree that is clearly not designed for human use, the upper part of the photos shows the self-awareness of a deliberate art project. But as if the true loving and caring nature inside the model have precipitated, the bottom half shows the model looking at the cat, and the whole setting becomes more “habitat-like” as it cannot be more suitable for the emotion and atmosphere. While the cat tree is the main prop in this project, I still wanted to emphasize the homely and domestic setting by using only natural light coming from the windows. Through a series of contrast and paradoxical settings, I hope to draw attention to our emotional state with material surroundings, and, ultimately, the question of where exactly can be our habitat?

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Portrait of Joy Bao by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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About The Author: Joy Bao is a senior enrolled at Bryn Mawr College. Class of 2020

Also posted in Architecture, Art, Blog, Cameras, Contemporary Architecture, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, Travel, Women

Tatiana Lathion: The Man, The Basement

Photography by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

 

Photography, Video and Text by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

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The Man, The Basement

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In this series, the artist chose to shoot in a basement. Why a basement? Well, in many ways, the basement symbolizes a sort of dark unfinished place, a place where our emotions dwell, where we experience the raw affect of feeling. In reality, many use the basement to store unwanted or unneeded items. It is often a place in a house that remains in a constant need of repair and disorder or casual place of gathering. It is never the first room to be shown to guests and is often times never shown to guests. In horror movies, it is the place where a character meets their death and is often associated with uneasy feelings. A finished basement is never the norm and is often met with surprise as people expect its rough edges. In this series, it symbolizes the place where we hide away our emotions. It represents the darkest and innermost sense of self, where we are allowed to express ourselves.

The subject of this series is a young black male, dressed in all black clothing. In this series of images, he expresses four emotions: sadness, despair, happiness, and love. In the hyper masculine society that we dwell within, there exists a societal standard that inhibits a free, uncritical expression of emotion from the male population. In many ways this is only intensified by the subjects blackness. In our society, the black population in the United States cannot afford to express emotions freely for being fearful of being viewed as weak, irrational, or unhinged by the ruling state. Instead, a burden is enforced in many minority households of this population to uphold and withhold their emotional state from others. Emotional expression is thus rejected two-fold for the subject of this series. However, in this darkened place, the subject is encouraged to express an emotional state. This symbolizes the inner emotional conflict of the subject, which is often never revealed to the general public.

In short, this series of images constitutes a small glimpse into the soul of the subject. It symbolizes the raw emotional state of the self and the continuous growth of human emotion. The subject and the setting are juxtaposed against shinny silver garland that is hung on the exposed pipes of the basement. For me, the reflective material represents an attempt to dress the dark unfinished parts of the human soul. It reflects the light and seems unnatural in the space and yet it adds to a concept of improving the self and allowing for emotional expression. I feel as though self-care and self-love has become this very surface level movement that attempts to improve years of trauma and emotional suppression with a face mask or some trivial material fix. However, to really heal and fix the human soul, it takes work and emotional upheaval of that suppression.

This series, attempts to create a visual representation of an abstracted construction of the holding place for the subjects emotions. It touches on the suppression of emotion by the subject and an expanded identity as well as attempts to reconstruct the artificial attempts to heal emotional trauma.

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About The Author: Tatiana Lathion is a senior enrolled at Haverford College majoring in Political Science and Government.

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, Video, Women

Huiping Tina Zhong: The Stories We Tell

Photography by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Huiping Tina Zhong, Copyright 2020

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THE STORIES WE TELL

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The Construction of Narratives Through Performativity of Emotions

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This is the first time for me to use an analog camera, hence every aspect of each strip of film fascinates me. The shape of the film reminds me of comic strips, which inherently signify the progress of a narrative, usually chronologically. I set the shooting space to be a space with arches, while each emotion is performed in a different arch, as if the arches are the frame of a stage or a painting, or a hole through which people peek through to view early forms of motion pictures. Different emotions are signified through different pieces of accessories on the same body, and sometimes even only through accessories, in other words, the absence of a body. In the schema, time proceeds both horizontally and vertically, and hopefully creating various storylines for each inspector.

In the first arch is sadness. The signifier of sadness is a pilot helmet. In my understanding, a pilot is isolated in the plane, and the helmet reminds me of war. In the first scene, the pilot is sitting by herself, and in the second round, she is embracing herself with sorrow. What happened? Maybe she has lost her fellow soldiers.

In the second arch is love. Looking out, she seems to be waiting for someone, and she seems to be enjoying her time. I chose a colorful skirt to represent the passion and the exuberance of young love. And when the lover arrives, she joyfully jumps in the air.

In the third arch, despair is represented through index, a trace of a body that was once here: gloves, shoes, a big coat, and a hat. It can be interpreted in various ways, but it can signify the loss of a life, which resonates with war, and even with love. Perhaps it is the lover that was lost to the pilot. The two scenes of despair is the same, because an absent body remains absent.

The last arch is happiness. She wears a pair of extravagant sunglasses with a golden frame, in the first scene she seems to be greeting someone happily, but in the second scene she is gone. Where is she? Is happiness now lost? It is open to the readers’ interpretations.

But let us return to the notion of the construction of a narrative. Although the inherent nature of an analog film strip is that it is indexical and chronological, life often does not have a clear plot line, and our memory of life gets entangled together to form our perception of the world, of our existence. This messy mixture of emotions and anachronistic events becomes the narrative that we construct for ourselves, while the difference between reality and performed memory becomes imperceptible.

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Portrait of Huiping Tina Zhong by Joy Bao, Copyright 2020.

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About The Author:  Huiping Tina Zhong is a senior majoring in Art History at Bryn Mawr College.

Also posted in Affiliates, Architecture, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Popular Culture, Student Life, Women

Light Table: Frank Kelly Style Icon

Frank Kelly. Philadelphia, 1983

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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I was looking through the archives recently and came across a photo of Frank Kelly, the man about town who defined mens fashion and style in Philadelphia during the 1970’s and 80’s. Frank was a style icon that I truly admired.  Always dressed to the nines, tall, handsome and seemingly always in a good mood.  He worked as a model between gigs in Philadelphia and New York and eventually became one of the most successful fashion salesman in Philadelphia, where his customers felt they could take  advice from him on what to wear in a boardroom or casually on the street.  He was incredibly charming and charismatic, qualities that defined his ability to sell to a wide range of customers.  Frank worked at various boutiques and eventually finished his career at Burberry’s until his retirement. Frank passed away in 2018 at the age of 79.

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For additional Light Table posts, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/light-table-portrait-of-the-day-2/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Blog, Diary, Documentary, Fashion, Film, Glamour, History, lifestyle, Light Table, Men, Models, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Repost: Charles Gatewood Interview

 

Interview and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet Charles Gatewood in person. I was familiar with his subcultural work from his books, magazine assignments, and exhibitions. I admired his anthropologic curiosity and his  significant contributions to the medium of photography and its history. We got to know each other on social media and began corresponding via email until his untimely death on April 29, 2016,  a result of a fall from his third floor apartment in San Francisco. He left several suicide notes.  This is a repost of an interview I conducted with Mr. Gatewood in 2011. His legend continues to live on.

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TW: What do you find most compelling about the medium of Photography?

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CG: I’m a card-carrying voyeur, and my exotic subjects excite me. My camera is a passport to adventure and creative fun. I am my own boss. I have never had a “job.” I travel the world, do whatever I please, photograph famous people, and have kinky sex with beautiful punkettes. ‘Nuff said!

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TW: You have covered a variety of  subject areas in your involvement in Photography.  Which of these subject areas to you find the most compelling and  worthy of further exploration?

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CG: I’ve been photographing almost fifty years, and I’ve covered lots of subjects. Most of my work is about people and behavior, and I’ve spent many years documenting alternative culture in all its ragged glory. My extended photo essays include 60s counterculture, rock and roll (I shot for Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy), the radical sex community, and tattooing, piercing and body art (I helped launch the “new tribalism” movement by sparking the RE/Search book Modern Primitives). I also did lots of traditional photojournalism in the 60s and 70s.

One of my favorite extended photo essays is Wall Street, shot between 1972-1976. This work is more formal, and more about social conditioning, societal control, corporate excess, and fascist architecture. Which subjects do I find most compelling today? Barely-legal girls, ha ha.

TW: How do you think the medium of photography has impacted popular culture at large?

Are you serious?

CG: What was it like to encounter William  S. Burroughs as a subject in your work?

In January, 1972, Rolling Stone sent me and writer Bob Palmer to London to do a feature article on William Burroughs. Talk about a dream assignment. We spent a week with Burroughs, smoked hash, stared into the Dream Machine, played with the E-meter, and dug all Burroughs’ best rants and stories. Rolling Stone liked the story so much they asked me to be their New York photographer.

I shot Burroughs again in NYC, 1975, for Crawdaddy. He and musician Jimmy Page met for tea and chat before a Led Zeppelin concert. I got great shots from that shoot too.

TW: Are you equally compelled to photograph men and women.  If not,  which gender do you prefer to photograph and why?

CG: For most of my career, I’ve photographed everyone. Today, I mostly photograph gorgeous women. Wouldn’t you?

TW: How has photography broadened or defined your view of today’s world?

Like totally!

TW: If you could turn back the hands of time, would you have chosen another profession?

No, no, no. I do enjoy creative writing, but at heart I’m a picture guy.

TW: Describe the feeling of taking a great picture?  What happens at that moment?

CG: Well, for me the creative act is a wonderful high, especially if the subject is exotic or sexy. I go into what I call “magic space.” Psychologists call it “flow.” Athletes call it “being in the zone.” It’s an exhilarating feeling. Time stands still, there is total communion with the subject, and the creative process (right framing, angle, moment) is like a beautiful zen dance. I work it, work it, work it—and suddenly there it is, my shot!

TW: How do you define Photography as Art?

CG: Andy Warhol said, “Art is anything you can get away with.” I agree!

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