Photography has the ability to transport us emotionally and mentally that can have a profound effect on us. Images can be soothing, exciting, invigorating, envious, adventurous, sad, devastating, awakening and the list goes on and on. Here I'm exploring photographers who have a unique way of bringing us wholly into a well-crafted space equipped with humor, personality, and genuine pleasure for our shared world.
Jessica Pettway is a New York City-based photographer with an eye for the surreal and absurd. Not only is her work a pleasure to experience it tells stories and illustrates life in such a way that we are reminded not all things have to be filled with gravitas. Bold colors, keen pattern clashing, satin textures, and a healthy mix of undermining photo tropes give her images a kick that leaves you wanting more. Pettway gives life to whatever she points her lens at. When shooting a pair of shoes or a gold thong you get a sense of backstory, of a life, lived. Her portraits ooze with the subject's personality.
Void of the coy, false childlike innocence that seems to be the social media-driven norm. So often portraits can be boiled down to a desire for socially perceived fuckabillity. Beautiful pictures we've seen a million times but with a different nose or a new trendy hat. Pettway's portraits have non of that and her subjects are deeply more desirable. They celebrate the subject's individuality and diversity of mind and spirit. Instead of feeling as if she put the subject in a pleasing space, the space feels as if it emerged from the subjects themselves. Despite the bold, shiny, and often glamorous end result there is a seductive harmony that connects her subject and spaces that defines her extraordinary practice. If you miss the glory of myspace and the bubble-gum pop world of
If you miss the glory of myspace and the bubble-gum pop world of Hit-Me-Baby-One-More-Time Elizabeth Renstrom has created a space on the web for you to get that fix. Renstrom is a photographer and editor with a knack for constructing colorful images seeped in play, nostalgia, and a good laugh. "She uses humor as a tool to investigate themes of feminism, the way we use images, and how we craft our identities in relation to pop culture." Her hefty editorial portfolio and her personal work have a consistent voice and creative lens she interprets the world through.
Renstrom's alter ego, Basenote Bitch, is a project where she writes "unhinged perfume reviews" and combines them with images she creates based on the vibe she correlates with that scent and its place in 90's adolescent history. Reviews like this one for Paris Hiltons scent, "Not only is she one of the first influencers (some would say the first), she's also one of the first celebrities at the turn of the century to use their image to sell fruity florals perfumes. I'm not even talking real fruit-this is a fruit-flavor floral. You may as well be dabbing your neck with a Push Pop."
Despite the projects scintillating humor and spot-on visual deep dive into pop culture, there is an underlining facetious element discussing consumerism and child-focused advertising that makes her humor all the more poignant. Images sometimes reflect not only the fragrance and perhaps the person drawn to it, but also the darkness of gluttonous tabloid culture and tragic of female celebrities (like Brittany Spears and JonBenét Ramsey) that served almost as warnings to young women in the '90s. Renstrom offers glimpses into the blossoming revolution of sexual identity and inclusive feminism that Millenials struggled against to open the door for Gen Z to attack like a swarm of murder hornets of justice.
Lucia Buricelli is an Italian photographer with a penchant for the life and activity of our shared spaces. Her images have a way of presenting situations in a surreal, yet familiar way. While perusing her work various artists would pop to mind like Meret Oppenheimer, Kandinsky, and Martin Parr for their ability to also reinterpret the world with a sense of humor and affection. Each carefully cropped image feels casual and playful; overjoyed to exist. A memento of a feeling. A side-smile of appreciation for the absurd and magical world created when multitudes of individual personalities congregate and pass through a space. Barricelli celebrates our humanity and she does it with a sense of joy.
Teresa Freitas converts the architecture and structures of our fabricated world into spaces of escapism. A world akin to something we would dream that is familiar to us yet, wrong in a wonderful way. Often devoid of people or life, these urban dreamscapes feel residual. Safe, tranquil spaces await our arrival. When people are present they blend into the fantasy, allowing us to truly believe we have been transported into Freitas's own mindscape.