Priscilla Presser-Velder

Priscilla Presser-Velder

Christmas Monster

by Priscilla Presser-Velder (Germany)

Working in an environmental NGO my aim is to sensibilize the consumer to conscious consumption. In my series the hectic of consuming framed in the „magic of Christmas“ was portrayed. The overwhelming impressions of decorative images trying to grasp a slice of the consumer’s attention. A main actor is the visitor to Paris that is diving into the world of luxury to bring home a hardly desired image.

Portfolio from the Learning to see workshop with Chris Morris, November 2014.

Written review by JULIÁN DUEÑAS,
Director at GEO magazine

Dear Priscilla,

Looking at your work, first I would like to say that there are very few pictures and that makes it complicated to review with details. Knowing this and the fact that you’re starting in photography, I have to say that I was quite surprised. The usual thing for a beginner is to, except in a few exceptions, let himself go with the camera in hand and start shooting everything that moves (and much more today with digital cameras since its free). Then comes the editing time and that is by far the hardest and most demanding task and for sure its hard to remove so many pictures.

In your case, it was a pleasant surprise because, either you did few pictures and this is all you’ve got or, and that’s what I think, you made a previous editing work where you ended up with what you thought is transmitting what you are looking for. This, believe it or not, is the basis of a good start.

In fact, this first work of yours is promising for 2 reasons: first, your goal is very clear (which is nothing else than willing to raise awareness in society towards the need of a responsible consumption), and second, because you are starting to develop a photographical eye. We will speak later about technics.

Let’s go in parts. In all the reviews I’ve done of those workshops’ portfolios, I always highlight the importance of the theme’s choice, the need to have a clear and defined goal in order not to divagate and loose yourself in details, losing the precious time that you have, which in the photographers assignments situations is always too short.

I see that you, at least in this situation, have it very clear, you know what you’re looking for and you wait for the exact moment during which the scene comes in front of your camera. And even if you’re using quite usual tricks and you’re trying to reproduce images that left a mark on you –on this other hand, it is very normal because starting in this job, as well as in many others, usually comes from imitation–, I see you are not afraid to try things, to look for different and dared angles, playing with double language, with reflections, with the reading between the lines. This wanted result is not always reached, but even the very experienced ones do not reach it always. It is still a good start.

Composition is something else that surprised me in your work. There are only 9 pictures but some of them lightly outline the consumerist desire, the same one you’re willing to make us aware of. I feel somewhat of a burden in your pictures, a pre-Christmas asphyxia, which is what I imagine you wanted to show.

However, and it is fully normal, you need to work more on the framings and with it, by showing a few parts, make the viewer able to reconstitute the complete scene (in literature Ernest Hemingway defined it with the iceberg theory, which can be resumed by showing a few tips and leave the reader’s mind imagine the rest). I would also recommend that you look for scenes more clean, without that many noise and distortions. There is too many confusion in your images. This is only here to distract the viewer, making his attention get lost in details that have nothing to do with your initial approach. For this, a lot of your images lack of strength, they do not transmit to us.

On a technical basis, I observe logical problems of a composition, something that time and experience will allow you to correct. I can also see lightings problems, contrasts, slurried, clair obscur...But as I told you, this is normal at the beginning. I would even say desirable. This way you’ll be able to improve little by little and see how your images will become alive and get stronger by mastering technics and educating your vision. Go for it, insist and you’ll see that you’ll reach your goal.

Good luck!

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