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Thursday, 24 March 2016


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I first learned of Shawn on The Candid Frame podcast. It's a good interview, if you want to learn more about him...


Hobbit reference , by Gandalf?

Are you sure?

[No, *I'm* Gandalf. The reference is to Gollum. At least I hope I'm not Gollum. --Mike, who played Gandalf in his one and only theatrical experience in 7th grade]

It's interesting to me that Mr. Theodore's work is labeled as portraits. With only a few exceptions in the work displayed at the link in the article, I learned nothing about the subjects. This may certainly be generational (I'm 68 yrs old). When I view a portrait I usually reach a conclusion of some kind about the subject, e.g. bold, frail, young, old, haughty, confident, playful; you get the idea. The conclusion is drawn from the eyes, features, expression and setting. I can't see any of those details, other than setting, in the work. As I said, probably generational; I may just not be hip enough to get it. Regardless, I like the design and composition and would look at more of his work.

[I would say the work comes first, and the label is just shorthand to help orient people in open space. Once seen you can see pretty quickly what it is and isn't. But the description never has primacy, the thing does. --Mike]

Both excellent "finds", Mike! Shawn's work is very much in the vein of the hot, vivid color works of Constantine Manos and Alex Webb. It sizzles. It sweats.

Chris's work is, to my eyes, simultaneously very British (in its style of observation) while also being very much unto itself. I find his "The Corners" work particularly good at quietly orchestrating scenes-within-scenes to present such day-in-the-life, yet opinionated, views of London's regular neighborhood life. That "watery color" effect is very effective at capturing that gauzy thin overcast so characteristic of England. (I enjoyed reading this interview with him.)

While Shawn and Chris might seem to be photographic polar opposites they're actually sharing three-legged pants in my book. They're both aggressively using color to communicate with their photographs. Indeed, their photographs wouldn't work nearly so well in monochrome, would they?

I'm in my mid-seventies and Shawn Theodore's work fits my criteria of show me something different. They don't fit the mold of insipid PPA style portraits — and to me that's a good thing.

Woody Allen once said he loved shooting in London because the diffused light created gentle shadows and soft tones.

I guess that's another way of saying 'watery' but London typically has a light hazy overcast which acts like a soft-box - allowing enough light to give foreground illumination without harsh shadows or backlight. It's slightly flat, but easy to work with, as Chris' image demonstrates.

Shawn Theodore's shots are strongly graphic - almost like poster prints. Highly structured with blocked, contrasting colours. Very deliberate and selective.

Interesting in both cases and both bookmarked. That's why we love TOP...

You might want to link to the 500px-website of Chris Dorley-Brown: http://chris3.500px.com/

Japan for me has the most beautiful light (and people). I travel a bit, but always find the combination of light and people in Japan the most harmonious combination, clean, bright and gentle, but brilliant.
Examples are on my site (sorry about the blatant plug!) in the "A Song for Sunday" gallery.
The pictures are always more effective than words.

When I first encountered Theodore's pictures, my immediate reaction was "Pete Turner" with a hint of Eric Meola.

When I first encountered Dorley-Brown's pictures, my immediate reaction was "Joel Meyerowitz" and his Cape Light and Tuscany pictures.

These reactions / observations are not meant to be criticisms but if I were to be writing a critique of Dorley-Brown / Theodore's work (I was a regional photo critic for the original New Art Examiner), it would most likely begin with a mention of the aforementioned pioneers of color photography who, in essence, laid the table for those who followed.

Again, not as a criticism of D-B / T, s but rather as a perspective on the history of the medium and genre in which they work.

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