As an artist, whether a photographer, graphic designer, painter, musician, or otherwise, the process of being inspired and drawn towards new directions in creativity never ends … or, it shouldn’t end. But sometimes, in the day to day process of producing whatever your form of art is, with concerns about meeting deadlines and meeting client expectations, staying in familiar modes is both comfortable and practical.
Sometimes coming out of the comfort zone requires a big push, and sometimes that big push is a inspiring teacher combined with talented classmates that make you feel like you don’t want to be at the back of the pack — there’s a little competitiveness to get the adrenaline flowing and a genuine desire to do your best.
Enter commercial photographer Donald Giannatti and his amazing online “8 Week Portrait Course.” This course is organized around exploring eight different portrait photographers whose work has left a lasting mark in the world of photography and beyond, one per week. Don introduces the work of the week’s photographer by recorded video and provides a wealth of other resources like lighting diagrams and Photoshop tutorials to help us create our own portraits inspired by that photographer. The class shares informally all week via the course’s Facebook group, and at the end of the week, we each choose two favorites from our work to submit for the assignment and participate in a live online critique with Don and the rest of the students.
This week, the photographer we studied was Sarah Moon. Born in 1941 in Vichy, France, Sarah Moon has been a fashion and commercial photographer since 1968. A New Yorker article about an exhibition of her work says “Sarah Moon’s ethereal and elegant work is usually classified as fashion photography, but her attraction to an abstract, painterly aesthetic has long pushed her most artistic work beyond the scope of a fashion shoot.”
Notes about her exhibition in the Michael Hoppen Gallery say
It is difficult to summarize Sarah Moon’s fantastical photography – almost thirty years of image making has made Sarah Moon a legend in her own lifetime. Well known for her personalised commercial and editorial work since the early 1970s, Moon has continued to investigate a dream world of her own invention, without repetition or compromise. For more than thirty-five years, Moon’s heart-stopping fashion images have bucked every so-called commercial trend, from the need to establish eye contact – it is only rarely there – to the belief that the most alluring fashion photograph must be glossy, even hyper-real.
If you follow any of my work as a pet photographer, you know that fantastical, mysterious, and dreamlike do not describe a single portrait that I have made in the five years I have had the Dogpatch Pix studio. But, its out of the comfort zone for me in this course, and I followed Sarah Moon into that dreamy world with a series of portraits, some with a dog and some without. Thank you to my daughter, Laura Gertz Runyan, for modeling and her little dog Garrison too!