The concept for an image is almost always a difficult internal debate for me. I realize there is “nothing new under the sun” but at the same time I still struggle to create something that has at least some hint of originality. Most days I work on images that are part of a defined series like Obscuro or Cloud Busting where the concept is more of a set of rules constraining what is required for the overall look and mood of the images. But there are days where I just want to create something unconstrained by the particular dogmas of a series and spend the day doing something completely different. For this type of shoot one of my favorite topics is to choose a classical theme that has been used hundreds (if not thousands) of times before and see if I can produce a variation that offers something a little unique.
One of my favorite themes is “The Three Graces” – grace, charm, and beauty (or beauty, charm, and creativity, …). There are many examples of this theme throughout the history of art – Greek coins, frescos in Pompeii, Botticelli, Rubens, Antonio Canova, etc. Probably the most well known reference and the one I chose to build my variations on is Raphael’s:
This version has been widely used by hundreds of painters, sculptors and photographers, and I have seen many wonderful variations of it.
One of the small changes I wanted to make was to use three similar body shapes that would not be considered “classic”. I also wanted to use subjects that had tattoos. I felt these choices were a bit more “up to date”. In my last post on this blog I talked a bit about shooting into large soft light sources and the version of The Three Graces below used the exact same source and technique. I love how the light wraps around the bodies enforcing absolutely no sense of place.
For the next variation I wanted to bring the similar configuration and pose into a setting that was closer to my normal fine art work (something a bit more Chiaroscuro). In this version a cigarette and dead flower was added as a play on the apples used in the Raphael version.
For the last shot I thought it would be funny to change the theme from the traditional charm, beauty and creativity to something a little more negative like indifference, jealously and conceit (or similar). A big thanks to the models for coming in to work on this with me and I hope you enjoy the images.
Next time a discussion about the new Aerial series work.