Staged Photography

April 11th - June 12th

 

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©Irving Penn

I’ve always had a soft spot for staged photography, a practice that until recently has flown under the radar.  It’s true that some early photography was staged due a need for long exposure times and a desire to imitate painting, but by the twentieth century, fine art photography typically privileged “found” experiences.  However, in recent years, with the rise of artists like Gregory Crewdson (Crewdson Studio IG)  and Cindy Sherman (Sherman IG) the interest in staged work has increased.

As a student, my awareness of staged photography was limited to Edward Weston's sensuous peppers until I fell in love with the narrative implications of Irving Penn's still lives. My early career was as a studio food and product photographer--yes, I was one of those responsible for the chasm you find between ordering that beautiful looking burger in the photo and receiving an often sad/slapped together version. But what I loved most about that time was how each photograph started with an empty space and you come in to create something beautiful out of that emptiness. It left me with a love of studio work and an appreciation for, and understanding of, the practice of creating a world within the frame.

I have chosen six photographers for this showcase whose art runs a wide gamut of what “staged imagery” can involve. Several have found imaginative ways to transform the everyday through reinvention and abstraction, finding the power in the ordinary. While others seek to evoke a mood,  capture vanishing moments of beauty, or even include the presentation of the print as part of their staging.

A photo reviewer once told me I was a film-maker – and I think that describes these photographers as well. The desire to control what exists within and without the frame is at the heart of staged photography.