Friday, May 11, 2012
Aquatic Absolute: Hendri By Paul Smollen
Whether coincidence or not it seems many of the artists I profile live or work near a body of water. For most it's a sea or an ocean, but a great lake or two certainly counts! Humans are drawn organically to water, it is a natural life force. I know from my own experiences that my body reacts strangely when it has not been in or next to the ocean in awhile. Although I live only a few miles from it, every once in awhile my body commands me to drive up and over the mountain near my home to not just be near the ocean, but drench myself and become apart of it.
It comes as no surprise then that Australia would produces so many incredible photographers. Artists generally either capture the beauty that surrounds them, or are forced to create it. For artists working in the land down under, the beauty is everywhere. Shooting in Australia without unitizing the Pacific and Indian oceans as backdrops would simply be a crime.
Sydney's Paul Smollen says that even as a child, there was always a camera in his hands. While it may have rarely had film in it, it did allow him to see life differently while he was growing up. Paul has always specialised in landscapes, flowers and still life. His foundation for shooting was already beautifully formed, just awaiting a model to be apart of the surroundings he was photographing. It is more natural for Paul to have a camera in his hands than not, and Paul feels he sees the world with more clarity while looking through a viewfinder then when without.
Paul and I have been in communication about featuring his work for some time. Our busy schedules and the fact that my e-mails were only popping up in his spam folder made initial connection a bit of a challenge. Water also played a small role in pulling us together. When Paul finally had a break, he took some time off in Malaysia, working by the pool on the images of Hendri and sending on the info needed for the feature.
'I was contacted by another model who said would I mind meeting his friend who wanted to try modeling. So I agreed and met with Hendri and saw right away just how special he was going to be. This shoot was the first time that Hendri appeared in front of the camera, as the shoot was only supposed to be a test shoot. I chose the locations with Hendri as I wanted to contrast his smooth muscle definition against the dramatic rugged Sydney coastline. But so that the focused remained on Hendri I stripped a lot of colour from the images and gave them a more muted tone, so that the eye is initially drawn to Hendri then the surroundings.'
Paul says that he enjoys working with new models, actors and musicians and believes in giving them a voice and creating work that is unique to each person. 'So there is always something special in their books rather than run of the mill.' Although some photographers have signature shots or sets, it is rare for Paul to revisit a concept or do copycat shots. Paul would rather challenge the model and himself to come up with something new and original. Paul especially enjoys the energy and a rawness a new model brings to the work. Capturing that rawness and their expressions is more exciting that posed work.
'I am faithful to the moment and the ethos of capturing a moment in time, so how you appear in front of my lens is how you will look in the image. There is no digital manipulation to any model. I may strip light, adjust contrast and colour, but if your eyes are brown, they stay brown. I never change who a person looks as that is what makes them unique and I only capture record that.'
Paul Smollen Official Site:
Paul Smollen on ModelMayhem & Facebook