J'ai récemment participé au concours international Portrait Awards 2019 organisé par le magazine Lensculture.
Vous pourrez découvrir la série de portraits "Portraits of Residents at a Retirement House"que j'ai proposée sur ce lien : https://www.lensculture.com/antoine-violleau/event-submissions
Voici la critique que j'ai reçue en retour :
Hello Antoine. I chose your documentary portfolio series, “Portraits of Residents at a Retirement House” for review because it’s visually interesting! Looking through the portfolio I feel like this is very much a cohesive series – visually and conceptually a creative, thoughtful documentary study of the elderly people in the photos. You say that for these photos, “They wanted the portraits to be "happy". Therefore I shot these portraits on a white backdrop using gels to add color to the backdrop.” You go on to say that, “Lots of these residents have Alzheimer. So it was not easy to catch their attention. One of the employees put on make up and fix the residents' hair before i shot them.” This collection of images tells a story, not only about the place where you photographed, but also the people in the photos. I think that even though you were making images of elderly people, you captured the spark of youth in each person!
I have taken some time to study your photos, looking for visual clues that communicate ideas that are supported by your statement. When I see the photos they seem documentary in nature, the way you isolate and record each person in a frame. The photos become documents of these people’s lives that will end up becoming important documents in the lives of their families.
The use of color serves to create dramatic, uplifting, and fun portraits! These are intimate photos that provide the viewer with an introduction to these characters and invite them into these private worlds you have highlighted and captured. The result is a collection of creative images that express the mindfulness that you brought to their conception and creation. I feel like the photos are very personal, rooted in each person’s family history. And, they communicate on many levels by using an artistic approach in their tonality and the drama in their lighting.
These intimate images bring to light some of these people’s physical struggles as they age. Yet, you have also captured so much joy! The photos express feelings of community, connectedness and determination. This thoughtful visual study brings to light some of your own feelings about what it is like for people in this place and your own experiences when making the photos. I think your statement tells the viewer a little about how you came to this project, while the photos expresses a sense of genuine interest around a subject matter that has become important to you.
The whole idea creating a visual story about these people and your experiences opens the doorway to uninhibited, unhindered creative ideas. It opens the possibility of incorporating your skills, talents, experiences, interpretations, and even ideas and suggestions from your imagination. Mostly it requires the calling up of those emotions and having the capacity to self-direct the images to also embody the emotions. And even when all of this process is carried out, you can’t control what the viewer will see and understand based on each viewer’s capacity for emotion and the experiences they bring to the image. This is where being vulnerable comes into play (I hope this makes sense). I hope viewer’s can feel this sense of vulnerability that you have captured in these photos.
Another aspect of the images is that they seem full of a sense of an idea of community where the photos contribute to the history of these people and purpose of this place. There is an inherent sense of “family portraiture” in the photos, which is emphasized by the poses, the sense of studio environment, and quality of the lighting. For example, I see strong threads of expressed familiarity that carries through all the photos in the portfolio. The images, to me, seem authentic and the fact that people are portrayed in a place where they feel connectedness and a sense of belonging.
Also, every one of the photos seems to capture an intimate experience within a larger story of each person’s life. Each one of these photos tells a story that is part of the larger story of these historical narratives. You must have heard so many stories that could accompany these photos!
An interesting quality of your work is how it crosses the lines between documentary, art, and storytelling. Your images strike me as also illustrating a lot of ideas having to do with issues of identity, the entire human experience (from birth to death) and the expression of that experience. I see the photos as alluring stories of the human experience, as communicated by the aging body, mind and its emotions. For me, the images are powerful in a group, but they are also beautiful as individual photos.
One of the things that speaks to your viewers, throughout your portfolio, is the way that design and composition become primary subjects within the frame. For example, all your images are visually dynamic and could also be viewed in terms of photographic design. Your lighting, cropping, and positioning of subjects in the compositions are very purposeful. The position of the subjects in the frames creates visual relationships with the photos they hold. And within the designs the subjects are performing roles. It is clear the people captured in the photos have become very important characters in your own life story!
These photos are certainly compelling. The images are full of history, mystery and expressive emotions! As far as exhibiting, don’t feel like you need to be married to the photography world. My advice is that you enter juried art exhibitions and/or show your work within art communities. I think that your images would do well in an “art” environment. Your photos are very classical, yet cross a lot of boundaries, which is highly encouraged in the art world. I suggest you keep an eye on www.callforentry.org for portrait themed calls for artists.
My next observation/suggestion has to do with presentation. I suggest that the photos would be marvelous in a book. I think your ideas and stories of these family’s histories, combined with the photos will make a more cohesive presentation. Also with a book, the viewer can hold the images, making the interaction more personal. Plus there is the idea of how important it is to record the present for the benefit of your future family. A book seems like an important document in the timeline of these lives, their past, current, and future family.
Your images and your project are very creative, expressive and tell interesting stories about these people. They are full of creative, intimate and powerful perspectives! I would strongly encourage you to keep pursuing your ideas. Also, I suggest you continue to look at lots of portfolios and really challenge yourself to continue doing something unique, that you haven’t ever seen. Look at the work of Mary Ellen Mark and Sally Mann. Keep digging into this story and bring the story to your viewers. I very much enjoyed looking at your photos and I appreciate the way your images are masterfully considered and carefully designed. I hope this review is helpful and I hope I have answered your question. I look forward to seeing what you will do next!
Je n'ai malheureusement pas gagné, mais quelle joie de lire une telle critique de min travail :)