Over the last decade photography has turned away from the ideal of beauty, as it has turned away from the idea of crafting a singular artistic print. In reaction to Eggleston’s influence on a generation of photographers, I have created a body of classic color portraits that reflect a contemporary subject with a nod to the history of formal portraiture. Revisiting Beauty is inspired by portrait paintings from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, in particular, artists such as West, De La Roche, Stroganov, Sargent, Whistler, Hockney, and portraits created in the mid 1900’s by many anonymous painters. My own background in as a painter also informs this work.
Revisiting Beauty captures girls between the ages of 14 – 17 on the cusp of womanhood not fully aware of their own loveliness and physical presence, revealing a tender age before they leave the familiar. This series follows my project, Spring Fever, where examined the physical and emotional connections of seven-year-old girls as they move into adulthood. Working with people I know and seeking to portray them with dignity and sensitivity, the subjects are photographed against a colorful backdrop completed with a landscape or environment I have captured, either in China or in California. The result is a more painterly approach to creating photographs, yet allowing the shadows and earmarks of the photograph to be revealed. This series is part of a larger project examining connections of color, landscape, pose, and object as a way to reconsider the formal expression of the photographic portrait and give a nod to classic painterly sensibilities.