Gone are the days of a fashion sphere dominated by brash, shallow, and overproduced portraits. Photographers and clients alike have spent the last decade favouring a more abstract approach; layered in concept and execution alike. Product photography, however, has been considerably slower on the uptake with the genre still largely dominated by slickness over substance. Amanda Sellem (@amanda.sellem) provides us with a refreshing dose of originality and some simple yet stunning still lifes. Sellem is a true master of her craft. Her unwavering individuality is rooted in her well-informed aesthetic which she executes expertly and without compromise.
Amongst the seemingly endless supply of breath-taking series, are Amanda Sellem's fascinating stills for Carton Magazine. These iconic scents are complimented by each equally timeless image in which they sit. Sellem chooses a mid-grain film to imbue a sense of ease whilst utilising negative space and a red-blue palette to inch to towards a dream-like surrealism. Alongside the architectural approach to form and fluidity, the use of semi-solarisation demonstrates both intent and intelligence. The soft yet scientific outcome harkens to the likes of Man-Ray and Irving Penn; communicating a sophisticated approach to nostalgia.
Thirty-five mm film is back in full force and makes no promises of going quietly. Due to the rise of smartphones and subsequent accessibility to cameras, we have more photographs (and photographers) than ever before. It seems that amongst masses there has been an ever-increasing desire for tactility in both methodology and output. Analogue film provides a much-needed complexity through its allusion to a more craft-like approach. An unfortunate consequence of this popularity, however, is the resultant over-saturation of self-indulgent, contrived, gauche, and gimmicky stills whereupon the romantic and reminiscent nature of film serves as a substitute for artistic discipline. Through dedicated practice, appreciation to the medium, experimentation and research Amanda Sellem is able to produce elegant and expressive works without the need for convoluted conceptualism or cliche.
Sellem's referencing is impeccable. She curates her influence from Wolfgang Tillmans to Salvador Dali whilst keeping all pieces completely her own. Gentle expressions and compositions, slightly askew, emulate the empathy of acute imperfection found uniquely within the modern female gaze. A miniscule depth of field for romanticism and the playful omission of any semblance of a straight line can be seen within this series. Her youthful nature can be derived from her use of bright primary colours despite her mature approach to minimalism.
Whilst exploring her earlier work (thanks Instagram), we can dig up the roots of her craft. By building her initial portfolio in documentary photography, Sellem has no doubt meticulously studied the fundamentals of banality. As such her approach to finding beauty within the other utterly boring is near faultless. She does not condescend towards her audience by means of passing hum-drum as high-brow but instead uses complex visual language to guide toward what we may have otherwise missed. In short, her work is refreshingly both comprehensive and comprehensible.