“When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul” –
These largely nude portraits come from a series of over fifty that I’ve created using an adapted document scanner as my camera in a photographic process known as scanography. After several years of experimentation with the technique, trying many different methods, I have mastered a complicated process of taking multiple images of my model which tesselate into a complete scene.
The technique allows for very high-resolution images of skin, fabric, hair, tattoos etc. The narrow depth of field, only a quarter inch or a few millimetres, results in crisp, detailed parts that are near the glass which rapidly drift out of focus as they move further away. In combination with the light source and the lens being in the same assembly, this offers a very particular look that is typical of scanography. Body parts are also slightly abstracted by their contact with the scanner glass leading to the unusual portrait style. They have a sensitive and very painterly quality with an ‘old master’ style, chiaroscuro modelling of the body.
Like my sculptural works, as well as being beautiful images, they protest against the pervasive body fascism that sickens our society. I have avoided image manipulation or airbrushing because I love the beauty of natural bodies, shown as they are, with their blemishes and imperfections all adding to the overall texture of the pieces.
These photographs explore the beauty, sexuality and humanity of my subjects. Many have a narrative and incorporate sexual imagery or religious symbolism, the inescapable topics of sex and death that define the human condition. It is an emphatically collaborative and intimate process in which I encourage my subjects to express themselves through their poses and use of their own props and clothes. The resulting images are honest, intimate and imbued with a strong sense of personality.
Each photo collage can take up to two hours to shoot, placing great physical demands on both me and the model as I move the scanner over their body like some strange artistic game of Twister. Subverting the blink-like speed of modern photography this process harks back to more primitive processes where the potential movement of the subject is all part of the game. Experimentally driven but with a keen aesthetic eye, these photographs are both beautiful and beautifully made.
Most of the images are produced as limited editions, usually at three or sometimes four sizes. They are printed using an archival C-type process on Fuji’s premium Pearl paper, which reflects light back through the pigments and resembles the screen images more closely than any other printing process. Similar to a metallic paper, it gives the skin tones a lustrous sheen and the colours are luminous and vibrant. They are presented using the classic acrylic face-mounting process where the print is sandwiched between a high-gloss, clear acrylic sheet, and an aluminium backing plate. The refraction of light through the acrylic sheet gives a high definition effect and brilliant colour, with stunning flawless results that will last for many years.
The finished piece is supplied ready to hang on the wall, eliminating the need for a picture frame and is now widely used for photographic work in galleries and museums. It is roughly equivalent in price to traditional glass and wood framing but is much more contemporary and prevents the double reflections caused by the glass and the print. They are also easily transportable with much less packing required than glass framed prints. This is my preference for how these images should be displayed and all galleries show them this way. If however you prefer to buy just the unmounted print please enquire about those prices.