Julia Vogelweith

Julia Vogelweith

Fine art photography

by Julia Vogelweith (Luxembourg)

Julia Vogelweith builds her photographic work like an open book of her privacy, fears and anguish. Through her enigmatic characters, often imbued by a childish world, and its dream like landscape, she takes us to the intrinsic depths of the human being. Like Hamlet’s Ophelia, one can find a fragile beauty, in search of an impossible love which will only find its freedom in silence or death. It is nevertheless her who is looking through the view of her characters, like an invitation to take part to her inner journey. Photographing the absence and the oblivion, away from time and the day to day unrest, she asserts her presence to the world.’

Portfolio from the Fine Art Photography workshop with Roger Ballen, September 2013.

Written review by ERIK VROONS,
Editor-at-large for GUP Magazine

Dear Julia,

I can see that you are a talented photographer but it is more difficult for me to recognize the specific authorization of the pictires. That is to say, some (pic # 1 and 2 and also pic # 5/6/7) can be seen together as belonging to the same series, or at least to the same photographer. This is what is meant with ‘artistic signature’ and once established technical skills, this is what is considered to be one of the most important things to work on in order to become recognized and respected as a photographer.

So you have to ask yourself this question: what exactly is it that I want to express? How does my photography reflect my artistic ambitions?

Good photography, in my opinion, should become more than what I would see in reality, with my own eyes. By interference of the photographer, the decisions and aesthetic approach, the image becomes something different all together. Something, ideally, that still feels real (as a registration of an actual time and place) but that somehow can not so easily be traced back as such by the viewer. The good photographer works like a magician : we very much enjoy not to know the trick!

As you may know, the word “portrait” comes from the Latin “portrahere,” translated as “to drag out, reveal, expose.” The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even mood of the person but what also matters here is to signify a relationship between you, the photographer, and the subject. In portrait photography, the presence of the photographers gaze also becomes an integral part of what the picture is about.

This means that your photos don't have to be technically brilliant so long as you capture the essence of your subject. Think about what makes your model so uniquely "them" and try to capture that in your portrait. A good portrait photograph will tell a story about the person in it.

Nowadays, assuming that you shoot digitally, you can make as many images as you want and so I suggest that when you are with a model, you make a lot of pictures. Not only does the extended number of pictures make a better result, it also helps to make the model more at ease and familiar with the situation. Eventually they will be off guard and that helps you get closer to their ‘real’ personality.

I would like to advise you to divide the pictures into beginnings of different series – for example, as previously suggested, tob ring pic #1 and 2 together in one series and pic #5/5/7 in another. I think this is your best work so far so let’s focus on that and forget about the rest for now.

Once you established to recognize the different approaches and initiated this divide you can start to continue fine tuning the concept. So again, with every series ask yourself: what is it about, exactly? Just write some keywords on a paper. With that list you can start to set up a continuation of your series; finding the right model(s) , props , and locations; and in the post-production, work from the same parameters in order to keep a steady and articulated aesthetics.

Finally, saying something about portrait photography in general: you, the photographer, have to realize that an audience is very much skilled to recognize ‘people’ as subject – it is the closest thing to ourselves – but as models are anonymous (most of the times the audience do not know these people in person, in private) we cannot know their personality. Maybe you, the photographer, also does not know the moel in person but in your direct meeting you can hopefully recognize the potential for expression and in finding the right moments to capture that. This may sound a bit vague, but my point is that what defines agood portrait photographer , having the camera in hand, can manipulate and conrol the situation and have a vision of what it can look like in the end. So, to conclude, you need to already have a clear idea of the direction to which a shoot can lead.

I hope this brief comment is in any way helpful to you.

All my best, Erik

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