featured artist: elena stanton
as dream thoughts clinging yet to waking minds, or visions brushing soft against the surface of memory somewhere between truth and fable, the photography of Elena Stanton holds not only a pure remnant of moment, but reveals back to us the hidden auras that permeate object and person, motion and static, giving us not only what is seen, but what is felt
the above is a short bio that I wrote some months ago to describe Elena Stanton's photography. I do not feel that I have found a better way to express what it is like to view her work, but I would like to take more time here to share some of my favorites of her images, and some of the thoughts that they bring me.
when I proposed this post to Elena, she reminded me that a large portion of her photos are of me. she has captured me in a raw honesty, in a cast of characters, in pose and play, and all a conversation of body and lens. I have been one and I have been many, and through her camera she has touched the endless capacity that is in all of us -- to create and to recreate our selves. this is what I feel at our shoots; that I am an explorer of selves.
but I would like to focus on the shoots that I was not a part of. I would like to focus on Elena's self-portraits. it is these that most move me as a viewer -- they are at once reaching and confessional, earthen and ethereal. they tell the story of a woman, as a human animal, engaged in a calm and quiet exploration of her world. I thought I'd take a look at some images, and ask Elena a bit about her process.
here her stare is split, marking nature's imperfect symmetry. her eyes seem different hues, and the light spots nesting in her hair suggest a half lit memory. it is a simple gaze but one that holds us -- with eyes both young and timeless -- as though while we are beholding her, she beholds some human truth.
g: how do you like to feature color, as opposed to black and white?
e: creating color photographs are beginning to be a rarity for me these days but I'm trying to do more of them. it's harder for me to keep the image in color because I'm drawn to the stark, dramatic feeling of a black and white image. that's not to say that can't be achieved with a color photo, but there's something extra elusive about a black and white photo with strong lighting (for me at least). I like to feature color photographs as little breaths of fresh air from the usual melancholy, dark tone of my photographs.
maybe our proximity to nature, eyes soft and calm as other mammals'. or the ceaseless cycles, the wax and wane of everything. she pulls the moon to overlap, connects its glow with her own.
g: are your self-portraits usually spontaneous, or planned?
e: primarily spontaneous. normally they happen when I'm sitting around in my apartment and a magnificent light beam pours into the room creating an intriguing shadow, or a certain song will come on inspiring me to create a visual mood or scene based on that tune.
and the bareness of skin, the touch of water, where each little path is remembered, marked out and followed, making known the edge of body, the breadth of the sensuous.
g: what inspires you?
e: at the moment, I find myself being most inspired by dramatic lighting and shadows. the right use of lighting can give an image such an intense mood and feel that I really appreciate.
in fetal she finds solace from suffering; she pulls back to the calm of pre-birth.
g: when did you first start taking self-portraits?
e: I started taking self-portraits a couple weeks after I got my first camera which was about 4 or 5 years ago. I didn't really know what I was doing but I did know that I wanted to take self-portraits to understand my thoughts and feelings at the time. I used taking self-portraits as a creative way to tell my story.
she floats in this womb-world, umbilical forms tracing the space around her.
g: how is it different to work by yourself instead of working with a model?
e: it's a lot different and each has their perks. when photographing myself I know exactly the way I envision the photo to look so I normally know what to do with my hands, or where to look or what mood I want to stand out for the photo. it can be difficult to direct a model because they're only going off my (vague and poor) directions because they can't see the image in their head just as I'm seeing it in mine. the neat thing about working with a model is they will have their own take and their own spin on the scene and it will cause me to think of it in a different and sometimes more creative way -- in that way it's more of a fun collaborative process.
what would it be like, to meet the self there? or to meet the not-self -- the "other?"
g: what sort of props, materials, manipulations, etc. do you like to work with?
e: one of my favorite props for a shoot would be a mirror. there are endless in-camera photo manipulations and tricks you can do with a mirror. it never gets boring.
to hold it not a foot away and share in the awesome calm of being.
g: is there a certain story you remember associated with any of your self-portraits?
e: the day me and my ex boyfriend of 3 years broke up I chose to pick up my camera and take a self-portrait of a close up of my eye with a subtle tear falling. I wanted to capture this raw moment right as it was happening, instead of trying to recreate it later, to give it a real and intimate feeling.
I am very lucky to work with Elena; most of the photography on this site is her work. I would encourage you to explore her portfolio.