Psychological Photography, Passion for a Subject- Gabriel Isak, Lexi Laine and Hiroshi Sugimoto

Gabriel Isak – “Gabriel Isak’s work entails surreal and melancholic scenes where he invites the viewer to interact with the inner world of solitary figures that symbolize our own unconscious states. He used photography as a medium to draw and paint surreal images, minimal and graphic in its aesthetic, rich in symbolism and emotion, focusing on themes inspired by human psychology, dreams and romanticism, as well as his own experiences, especially the years he went through depression. Isak’s work is a serene and melancholic meditation that stills the chaos of life and transforms into an introspective journey that questions the depths of existence. The objective of Gabriel Isak’s art is to shine a light on the experiences of being and the states of mind those brings along. His subjects are anonymous with the slightest glimmerings of consciousness, imprisoned in monochromatic settings, so the viewer can envision oneself as the subject, reflecting back on one’s own experiences and journey in life.”

A few things I picked out from the statement is the use of symbolism to create generalisation, the person may be male or female but there isn’t enough detail, such as a face to focus on just one person. The work is made to generalise the emotion to humans and to relate to everyone. Again like John Darwell this project is based around depression but with a very different representation. This takes a less documentary approach and a more artistic style with surrealism and a minimal aesthetic, just to show that it isn’t about detail, but a dull colour pallet and an insight to the unconscious state.

Lexi Laine – “I strive to capture the beauty of natural aquatic landscapes and that true feeling of freedom I experience underwater”. “for me the most amazing thing about being underwater, is that everything in the real world, just disappears for a while. There’s no distractions or stress, just quietness and nature.”. “I like to try to tell a story with my images, I want to show the feeling of being in another world. The beauty and the power of that magical place beneath the waves.”. “Ocean conservation is very important to me, and through my art I hope to show my passion for preserving this precious part of our planet.”. “I’ll always be fascinated by the surface of the water, I see it as a portal between the two very different worlds, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to explore ways to capture this”. “The way the light plays with the constantly moving water, is as unpredictable as it is beautiful, as photographers we are always on the hunt for magical light, and the best I’ve found is definitely being a few meters under the surface.”. “I guess what I love about photography, is that it allows me to share an insight into my dreamworld.”. “I want to show feelings of strength and euphoria, and also at times of vulnerability.”. “My aim is to transport the viewer into these dreamscapes, and hopefully they can find in these images, their own fears and fearlessness”.

Lexi Laine’s work takes a less psychological approach to photography but her passion to create “a portal between the two very different worlds” is very similar to my own. The language to describe what it’s like underwater I find very familiar “There’s no distractions or stress, just quietness and nature”. Laine works towards creating a visual representation of this mythical world of nature, the woman is held and suspended by the water, it keeps her safe in an old world. The visual approach I find is very fairytale-esk, the dresses and use of nature to create something that looks unreal and dreamy is very effective at showing the dynamic nature of this waterworld. Just listening to Laine talk about her passion inspires my own to try out new photos, to include the environment and myself in new photos.


Hiroshi Sugimoto – “Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention – and yet they vouchsafe our very existence. The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth. Let there be water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Lets just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”.

Sugimoto’s work is very minimalist and lets the water and weather make up its own scene. The 50/50 composition creates a scene that can be recognised around the world but reveals little. This view is very common but is unique to our lives, it can be calm or a storm and has many psychological and religious links “I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing”. The never-ending scenes are shrouded in mystery, the horizon seemingly forever continuous, it is so unique yet many ignore or have forgotten about this. Sugimoto has shown me how simple an image can be and how effective it is capable of, this reminds me of photographing a wall of water interacting with a surface of water. The two different axis create a turbulent surface but are exactly the same, they shield each side from a different world, just like Lexi Laine’s portal to another world.


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