Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Posts tagged ‘nude photography’

Ozone Zone International Photo Salon 2013 – Results

Grand Prix - NGO HOA, Vietnam - Two Friends

Grand Prix – NGO HOA, Vietnam – Two Friends

I recently posted a longer article about my judging experience at the famous Al-Thani Photo Award in Austria.  Today, I would like to share with you news about our own Photo Competition – the Ozone Zone International Photo Salon 2013. I love photography. I live for photography. We all love photography at Ozone Zone. Travel photography, photojournalism, documentary, fine art photography, nude art, black and white, macro photography, nature – you name it!  All these categories – they have one common thing – they help us see our world, discover new details, learn. Many such photographs give us also the joy of an encounter with art.

Being passionate about art and photography, we decided early-on this year to organize and sponsor our own Photo Salon. And we all decided it will always have a specific angle – our angle:  promoting a positive message.

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland - Mysterious Place, SILVER

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland – Mysterious Place, SILVER

Some time ago one of our internationally acclaimed photo coffee table books “Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean” won the Nautilus Award, given for “contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change, as well as to the worlds of art and creativity.” We treasure this award because all these values are close to us, and that exactly is our angle, we decided. Our Photo Salon should promote fine, artistic photography with a positive message to the world.

We commissioned production of an on-line submission software, and opened our Salon for the first time in the summer. Received images were not as numerous as one would dream, but that was understandable without much advertising, word of mouth, or any major patronage. However – it was the QUALITY of some works which impressed us highly.  We received lots of top notch images. Very impressive ones.

Goran Jovic, Croatia - The Line, SILVER

Goran Jovic, Croatia – The Line, SILVER

From time to time I get invited to sit in jury of different salons and competitions, therefore I have a chance of seeing thousands photos – including the best world photographs of the highest calibre. And what I saw among entries of our salon was simply wonderful. It was amazing to see some of the world’s finest photographers participating in our Salon. Of course, it pushed the overall level of our competition up, and some photographs – still being decent – fell short of getting to the finals. That is, sadly, the role of jurors – to reject sometimes very good images in order to pick the absolute best. If you ask me – it can hurt. I sometimes have to  reluctantly reject really great images, and I feel almost guilty about it. But there can be only one The Best, or Second,  or Third Best in each category.
To those who did not qualify, I say – thank you most kindly for entering. We all in the jury saw lots of potential in your entries, and we do hope that next time you will score better. Don’t give up! You should know that your images were in excellent company, and overall level of entries was really impressive.

Daniel Zukowski USA - MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon,  GOLD

Daniel Zukowski USA – MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon, GOLD

And to those who see their images accepted as finalists – most sincere congratulations! You did well, you did compete against the most heavy guns of today’s photography. Thank you for sharing your images with our viewers.  Same words of thanks and congratulations go to our winners – a really amazing bunch of photographs. It was real joy for all of us in jury to see your entries! Cheers!
We did not expect to see such a high level of excellence, and while we recognize some of photographers’ names as being on the top lists for a while, we also noticed some new faces. Great work, thank you again!  We promise to work hard and prepare for you the Second Photo Salon in 2014. We will improve our submission software, reach for a patronage of PSA or perhaps FIAP, and try to make it as good for you as possible. And lets hope next year we will see many more entries – and have much more attractive awards for you!

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls, BRONZE

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls, BRONZE

Allow me to present here the list of winners. This list, along with list of all finalists is shown on our Web site here. Also on our Web site – here- you can see a slide show of all accepted and awarded works shown in a random order. I hope you will enjoy the slide show. What you see here are just a few examples of the fine works we received.

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait - Standing Alone, BRONZE

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait – Standing Alone, BRONZE

AWARDS:
Grand Prix – NGO HOA, Vietnam – Two Friends

Creative/Open
Michael Block, USA – Umbrella Ceiling GOLD

Asad, Bangladesh – Risky Journey SILVER

June Groenseth, Norway – Mix of Good Moments BRONZE

K.M.Asad, Bangladesh- Pray Time JUROR’s CHOICE

TRAVEL/NATURE

Goran Jovic, CROATIA – Ultimate Transport GOLD

Mateusz Liberra, Iceland – Mysterious Place SILVER

Michiel Vaartjes Netherlands – Dark Falls BRONZE

Mohd Khorshid, Kuwait – Standing Alone BRONZE (additional)

June Groenseth, Norway – Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora Juror’s Choice

 

NGO HOA, Vietnam - Man and the Sea, SILVER

NGO HOA, Vietnam – Man and the Sea, SILVER

MONOCHROME

NGO HOA, Vietnam – Day Work GOLD

NGO HOA – Man and the Sea SILVER

Swee Hoe Lim -Malaysia – Before The Storm BRONZE

 

June Groenseth, Norway - Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora,  Juror's Choice

June Groenseth, Norway – Comet Pan Starrs and Aurora, Juror’s Choice

PEOPLE/PORTRAIT

Daniel Zukowski USA – MIle 3, Los Angeles Marathon GOLD

Goran Jovic, Croatia – The Line SILVER

Viet Van Tran, Vietnam – The Yellow Umbrella BRONZE

Goran Jovic, Croatia – Rain Boy BRONZE (additional)

Andrey Kharabarin RUSSIA – Tale of Time Lost JUROR’s CHOICE

Congratulations again to all winners and finalists!
Cheers! Derek Galon

K.M. Asad , Bangladesh- Pray Time, JUROR's CHOICE

K.M. Asad , Bangladesh- Pray Time, JUROR’s CHOICE

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If you find this story worth your time, please SHARE and FOLLOW our blog. Thank you very much for stopping by.

If you are a photographer, please check our Salon’s web site in the spring, and we hope to see your entries. You may also be interested in my other article – recommendations for preparing your photos for best international photo competitions. See it here.
All photographs COPYRIGHT of their authors. No reproduction or copying allowed.

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 5 (and last).

 

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


It is time for my last major tip, which can make the vital difference in the success of your image submitted into a major photo salon.
#4 – Take your time to edit your images the best you can.
I’ve seen it many times, and as a juror I did it many times; I rejected images at the first screening due to their technical shortcomings.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2Part #3Part #4.

Here is an example from the Al-Thani Awards once again. There was an image telling a powerful, sad story. A very emotional one, showing a very sad dog sitting patiently at the bedside of an old, sick lady in hospital. It was strong and moving – and we all were impressed. What a moment to catch. However, the photo was really of visibly poor quality, like an unedited snapshot. A bit milky, not sharp, with blown whites – it was just too poor to accept, and we all reluctantly had to say “no”.  These really poor edits will usually be rejected at the first chance (typical problems for such instant rejects would be for example a slanting, uncorrected image with vertical lines of a landscape falling to one side, over-sharpened images, images with a very high noise level, photos with all whites “blown”, or taken with camera flash and showing the “red-eye symptom”. However, I assume you know about such basic technical problems and we won’t discuss it here.  Your photo, matching well the salon theme was seen by jurors who decided it has freshness, tells a story, and is worth keeping. It is kept on side with a number of other entries, awaiting final judgment. Will it win?


Well, that depends. Now, with just a handful of images in each category, jurors will have more time to see your work in more detail, and to convince each other WHY their favourites should be voted better than other excellent and competing images. Once again jurors will consider composition, crop, the story or message of each image, their artistic, journalistic or documentary values. But quite often the final aspect deciding about the winners is the technical quality of a print or digital file.
While all images kept for the final stage are really very good, jurors can take a closer look and pick the most perfect, flawless work. A telephone pole far away on a hill in otherwise serene landscape photo – you forgot to clone it out. A composite image showing jagged outline on elements pasted from other photos – you didn’t clean it meticulously enough. Quality of the print – did you optimize your image for printing? Or it looks too dark, or perhaps it has some tiny bright spots “blown” showing paper without ink coverage? That would look bad in a  printed catalogue, showing that you are not the master deserving the top award.  Is the lighting on your image at its best? All what needs to be sharp – is it sharp – but NOT over sharpened – a common sin among photographers? Over-saturated? Cropped well? Did you use the best type of paper to highlight features of your image? All that – matters a lot now. Your print or digital image needs to show you are really at ease preparing your images – you are the master deserving to win. I am myself sometimes guilty of skipping on fine tuning, thinking – it is “good enough”.  Sometimes I don’t want to waste yet another sheet of a fine paper, or I am short on time.  But it can ruin all your efforts. So, make sure you edited your image at your best, leave it for a few days and look again. If you are still happy – then go ahead and submit your work.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

 

What I said in these posts are no magic bullet to win. Winning competitions with thousands of entries takes some fine work  – and also a bit of luck. Having to sometimes reject some great photos, I know the luck aspect well. But by preparing your entries the best way, deciding what to select and how to edit it – you will help your luck a lot! Now all it takes is to try. Good luck, then!

Thank you for reading, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful. I hope my comments can make your competition entries more successful, and you can prepare your works with more confidence. All the best!
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Derek Galon, MA, ARPS,  is an art photographer with over 40 years of experience. His multi-awarded works are available as limited edition prints on his web site and from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante. He is available for talks, workshops, jury work, and as a freelance photographer for hire.

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is... (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is… (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!)

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 4

 

Jury at work.  Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


Tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique

I previously shared with you comments about images in special themes, my experience when it comes to judging, and also my recommendations as to selecting and printing your photos. 

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2, Part #3

Selecting your work for a fine photo contest can be a hard process and you should have no sentiments when picking your works. The fact that you like an image, or even the fact that the image is objectively good – may still be not enough for it to be accepted by a jury or win.  Sitting in a jury, one can see thousands of images, see what’s popular this year, and see trends. There are amazing amounts of very good photographs. They all are good enough to sell proudly to your customer, display in a local camera club,  or share on a social site. Good enough to be printed in a magazine looking for that specific scene you have, or good enough to win a small-scale, local  photo competition.  As I say – I’ve seen thousands of impressive, quality works. Yet, a jury of international photo salon has the difficult task of selecting just a handful of winners from these fine entries. So, which images have best chance to win? Not saying again what was mentioned earlier about sticking to theme, and picking your finest quality works – I have to say this: Unique, striking images will be quickly noticed among others.

I just said that sitting in various juries I have a chance of seeing current trends. These trends can kill your chances. What was unique and brilliant two years ago will be rejected this year. Why? Because lots of photographers copy others’ ideas. A winning photo of cocks fighting in Indonesia, so strong and story-telling a few years back made numerous people photograph cock fights.  A fresh several years ago, beautiful technique of photographing sea with a long exposure (aka “milky water” in jurors’ jargon) got so many enthusiasts that at the Al-Thani, jurors saw well over hundred such smooth water images. A bit too much becomes a bit boring. Your image, being yet another one done in this style would need to be absolutely striking, or it will risk the “cliché” label and will lose instantly. Same goes for perfectly composed landscapes done as HDR,  images of a girl sitting on a railway, a macro enlargement of a wasp’s head, a glam image of a young girl in studio. The list of “cliché” images is long, touching of lovely sunsets, now badly overpopular “Tuscany style” juicy green fields, black and white portraits of old, often unshaven people,  Asian fishermen setting their nets,  Vietnamese bulls running in wet mud, etc. etc. (Newly emerging trend – penguins! More and more penguins are on submitted photos.)
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All these, when done for the first time were simply stunning. Stunning to such extent that now we have hundreds or thousands of images in their style. All were taken  countless times, and they will still make at least half – or perhaps more of all salon entries.  If you have one of these, but you really believe it has some striking qualities – very well, go ahead. But if your image falls within one of the most popular trends – try harder, and try submitting something fresh, something not copied thousand times around the world.  Even if it shows one of well covered subjects – this can be just a different angle of camera, or a different edit, unusual crop, etc.  But your photo should be something more than a typical calendar shot.  You simply should show that you have YOUR way of seeing things, YOUR OWN concept, not just creating another lovely, but already overdone, trendy pic.  By having a fresh concept for your image you won’t compete against numerous finely edited but “cliché” images which are ought to be submitted to the same salon as your photographs.  By not competing against them but showing a fresh idea or angle, you seriously increase chances of being noticed. You will have what the jury is looking for!

Thank you for reading. Part 4 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 3

If you followed previous parts of this series, you know that today we will discuss the tip #2
– Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2.

Picking winning images

Picking winning images.

So, you have good photos which are great choices for categories you want to enter. Please take time selecting the best ones, and try to avoid submitting very similar shots. Leave your photos for a few days and look again with fresh mind. Ask your friends, colleagues in camera club. Select ONLY the best images, and try to have a diverse selection. It is YOUR job to select your best images. I sometimes see almost identical entries – like 2 or 3 portraits with just a slight pose change – but otherwise identical to the previous entry. Not only you lose a chance to win with another image instead, but you lower the impact of your work. “We’ve just seen that, didn’t we?” – the jury will say, and will not pay much attention to this second and third image. In other words – it will be quickly rejected. Unless you are entering a portfolio of several similar images, a series intentionally selected to tell a story –avoid such repetitions. They won’t give you more chances to win. And, when selecting the best image, keep in mind one VERY important factor – pick the image which has the most “bang”. I mean by that – an image which will have a strong first impression. While some small-scale, local or unknown photo competitions may have few enough entries for judges to spend lots of time discussing all images from the day one of judging – the tendency of international photo salon is to be big. More and more people try to get more recognition, and the number of entries can be enormous.

Jurors often have  just couple of seconds per each image at the first selecting run. They have trained eyes, and can quickly decide if a shot is well done or has some noticeable flaws. Also they will decide if your image is interesting enough to go to the next round or judging or not. All that within two or three seconds.

To help your luck, pick the most impressive images you have – help your image being instantly noticed.  Once your image got noticed, the jury will examine it for more detailed flavours, artistic and technical values. But your image should shout its story, or have a fine composition, colours – it  has to stand out and be striking. And this brings us to the tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique.
But this will be posted tomorrow…

Ah, here is another tip – entering many salons myself, I often wondered – should I send glossy or matte prints? should I print them close to maximum allowed size?  And, sitting in this jury and seeing thousands of prints, I can say – size does not matter. Lots of smallish prints were much more appreciated than large ones. Quality matters a lot, size – not so much. And use the paper most suitable for the given picture – be it gloss, metallic, mat – whatever shows your work at its best. There is no preference as to the paper type getting more jury attention.

Thank you, cheers!

Derek
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Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – PART 2

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Judging process at Al Thani Award for Art Photography in Linz, Austria. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

As promised, I will share with you all detailed thoughts and things I learned about judging process, based on example of my experience as a juror at the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography 2013. Why this one? This salon have had the number of entries close to 10,000, very high overall quality of entries, and was judged within a very limited time – two days – which as my colleagues-jurors confirmed – is now quite a standard procedure. We like it or not, high volume salons do not allow for much time spent on each image at the first screening, and rely on jury’s ability to quickly decide on the first round. So, this salon is a good example of a large-scale, very efficiently organized competition.

There are a few points worth discussing, so let’s start with naming them here: 1) Stick to the theme of category you enter. 2) Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang. 3) Try for your work to be original and unique. 4) Take your time to edit your images the best you can.

Above points may seem obvious, but they are vital and I saw many entries clearly  ignoring them. Even most tiny weak points could make the difference between the final “yes” or “no” for your image.

Let’s begin with talk about the “Stick to the theme” aspect. While most photo competitions or salons have  an “Open” theme – there are sometimes special or leading themes. They can offer you a higher chance of winning – IF you stick to these themes well. If you don’t – you may actually harm your chances of winning. At the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography we had several categories, and a main, special theme. On top of Open Color Prints, Open Monochrome Prints, and Open Digital Images, the special theme was “Discovering the World”.  If you think of it quickly, you may think it calls for travel or nature photos. But such themes need to be thought of a bit deeper if you hope to win.  Keep in mind that in today’s world the number of photographs taken everyday, and number of people travelling are enormous. Therefore, to be better than other competitors you really need to show your creativity, understanding of the theme, and stick to it.

We had thousands of photos to judge, and some fantastic images had to be rejected from the main category because they did not adhere to the theme. All jurors were reminded over and over by the chairman to think of the theme when voting. “Does this image help us discover the world, or shows us someone who really grasps something new in his understanding of the world?” – we were asked. And we had to take some tough decisions to select finalists and winners. We had to pick photos showing us the most unique and unusual places and situations, or action showing convincingly that persons on a photo really do discover the world.

To give you some examples we faced  – would you decide between a fine, artistic photo of a butterfly,  a fine long exposure photo showing  the grand canal in Venice,  a small boy in a class learning geography with a globe, or perhaps a slightly less refined image of climbers on a remote, little known peak of  exotic mountains? 

While all four did show us something from our world in an attractive way – we had to ask ourselves– is the butterfly photo really  about “discovering the world”?  Chances are you’ve seen many butterflies in  gardens and on  meadows, or at least on many nature photos. Therefore it is not a real discovery to most of us to see yet another butterfly – however lovely it is, and this would be the first image to go, despite its fine artistic qualities. Perhaps it would stand better chances in the “Open” category – a perfect fit for a Nature category. The shot from Venice can be most fine, but it is a cliché in a way – thousands of people shoot from the Rialto bridge the view at the grand canal, and while the submitted photo may show us a glorious sunset  lighting and a well composed scene, it  still does not have that sense of discovery the theme is calling for. So, this one had to go either. It would do in any Travel category, though.  Now, between the studying boy and climbers – the boy’s face expressed a thrill at learning new things, one could see he tried hard to learn and remember something new about our world. The scene clearly showed the boy “discovering the world” in his small ways.

The climbers were visibly exhausted, yet determined to reach the peak, to expand their limits and succeed in their quest. Not only that, but we all – looking at the photo – had a sense of learning something new, seeing some far-away, remote mountains –seeing their harshness through eyes of these climbers.  Additionally, this shot was done from an unusual angle, giving us a different perspective than typical “calendar-style” mountain photos. So, this image both showed us people discovering something about our world, and also gave the viewer something fairly rare to discover.
Conclusion?  With first two photos rejected without even  considering their quality, the voting would proceed on the two last images. Now it would be seen which one has a better composition, technical quality, and an overall story to tell.  With not hundreds but thousands of images to select from, a jury has no choice but really stick to all rules and use these criteria to select best images without mercy.  By sticking well with themes, you help jury consider your image and make yourself a favour.

Another quick example – something we noticed a few times, and had to remove these entries. If you enter “monochrome” or “color” themes  – know their definition. While a photo done all in tones of blue is a monochrome, adding even one more color to an image disqualifies it immediately. We noticed a few photos entered as monochrome, and they had a touch of extra color. Even if it is just a bit – it breaks the rules, and will have to go.  And, believe me – it will be noticed. If not at the first selection, then when discussing  the potentially winning images.  An unfortunate reason to remove good photos.

Most  of best international photo salons have paid entries these days, and you would be surprised how many people pay to enter, only to waste their chances by not taking real care about themes. Consider this, and you are already better than them, a step closer to winning.

Thank you for reading. Part 3 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
HERE IS DIRECT LINK TO PART 1 of this article.
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Sorting photo prints for judges.

Sorting photo prints for judges.

 

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions/salons – juror’s tips

This is a multi-part article intended for fellow photographers interested in participating in various international photo salons. Such salons are a nice way of displaying photos in galleries and photo clubs, also getting deserved recognition and often helping get photo distinctions of such fine international organizations as FIAP, PSA or RPS. Winning a medal at a fine salon can be a real honour and a way of gaining international exposure.  However – it is not always easy to win, and I hope my article may help you get a few steps ahead of your competitors.

Over the years I judged various art competitions, mostly photographic ones. That always is a good learning experience giving me an insight as to how a jury can see and evaluate submitted works. _DAG8427

 

I just returned from Linz, Austria,  to where I was invited as a juror of  the famous Al-Thani Photo Awards for Art Photography – one of the world’s most fine and highly attended photo salons offering not only medals, but also very high financial awards.  Being a juror there had been a really unique experience for several reasons:  quality of submitted images was overall very high (making our work most difficult, but exciting), working with co-jurors – highly experienced artists-photographers from around the world – gave me an insight into their views, knowledge, and judging styles, and lastly – the sheer number of submissions being in many thousands,  made me see some fantastic works – sharpening  my eye, and improving my judging abilities.

The process of judging so many images in a very limited time, along with all  aspects mentioned above, allowed me to see challenges of participating in such photo competitions more clearly. We often discussed that  after our jury work, and I want to share what we all learned there,  in a hope this will help you to prepare your submissions in best possible way.

Please Share and  Follow this blog to read next parts of it – I will share with you within next few days all what I learned as a juror of Al-Thani Photo Awards.

Thank you!
Derek Galon

Painterly – art photo series by Derek Galon

Recently, we posted photos and notes from various local gardens. To break away from these, here is our 99th post – this time about art photography and old paintings. For those enjoying our travel stories – we are just scheduling our next photo trip, and will be reporting from the Caribbean soon. For the moment, let Margaret – an art historian – tell about my recent art photography series “Painterly” from her professional point of view… Thanks! Derek.

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Photography and painting have been linked together and have influenced each other since the invention of photography in 1837. Early pictorial photography tried to emulate painting by emphasizing the “atmospheric” elements: using vague shapes, dimness of outline and subdued tonalities to convey a sense of mystery. Late 20th century paintings by Photorealists were made with technical virtuosity to emulate photographic images that were frozen in time, and these paintingscouldn’t exist without photography. These are perhaps the most different examples of a strong relationship between these two unique media that share many similarities.

Anatomy Lesson.  Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore, From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.  Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,  Jon: lighting master Derek: additional body fx Dusty: costumes Herman: deliver the liver.

Anatomy Lesson. Image awarded with FIAP Ribbon at Solway Small Print Exhibition 2013, in UK. On display in Black Box Art Gallery in Portland, Oregon, USA.
From top left: Kristin Urbanheart Grant , Tom Gore Gore,
From lower left: Aleta Eliasen Dusty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley Herman Surkis ,David Goatley. In horizontal position: Michael Ward.
Body paint: Kristin Urbanheart, Makeup: Aleta Eliasen,
Jon: lighting master
Derek: additional body fx
Dusty: costumes
Herman: deliver the liver.

Derek Galon’s latest series of “painterly” fine art photographs draw inspiration from the art of painting in a new, creative way. His images are not a nostalgic attempt of getting back to the times when photography imitated painting. These are subjective and original creations drawing inspiration from famous masterpieces of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some refer to specific paintings: Rembrandt’s Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp or a series of paintings, like bacchanalia by Titian. Derek’s images are a marriage between theatrical qualities of old style masterpieces (with subjects carefully posed and staged), and photography’s ability to seize the moment in time. These dynamic and arresting images portray a compelling narrative, every prominent element in a photograph serves to tell a story, a very different one each time.

When I studied fine arts, I was fascinated by old masters such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Titian, Brouwer,” says Derek. “After decades of photographing, working on complicated assignments, experimenting with lighting, and learning advanced computer editing, I decided I am ready to go full circle. I went back to fascinations of my younger years, creating a series of images in a painterly style. These are not copies of old masterpieces, but anhomage to their timeless excellence. My images take the essence of old canvasses – from early paintings of mythological characters, through masters of chiaroscuro, through romantic imagery of Pre-Rapahaelites – up to Surrealism.”

This version of Derek's Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

This version of Derek’s Anatomy Lesson has an extra surprise in form of an iPad used by one of students (Derek playing the role himself).

Rembrandt’s famous painting Anatomy lesson of Dr Tulp was one of Derek’s early inspirations. Rembrandt’s brilliant group portrait was commissioned by medical doctors. Each of them paid a part of a fee and each expected to be depicted with equal prominence. Instead of featuring passively sitting or standing individuals, Rembrandt broke with tradition, choosing the scene where subjects participate in the action of a moment. Rembrandt’s revolutionary vision has a distinctively photographic quality: a photo-like dynamic scene with action frozen in time. Derek’s Anatomy Lesson relates to these narrative qualities of the masterpiece. Spectators eagerly leaning towards the corpse are in fact Derek’s friends from Victoria’s art scene, who helped him with production of the image. This is their portrait, executed with “Rembrandt style” chiaroscuro and “Rembrandt lighting” commonly utilized in fine portrait photography.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.  Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley. All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and a Gold Medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.
With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon, Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Derek’s Bacchus, Pan and Ceres is another complex image, full of compositional challenges. It is inspired by bacchanalia scenes painted by Titian for the palace of Duke Alfonso d’Este. Titian referred to these paintings as “poesie”, a visual equivalent of poetry. The scene on Derek’s photo shows a hedonistic, merry company of the wine god Bacchus, Ceres – goddess of fertility and agriculture, with Pan – the huffed god of wild nature and their friends. This mythological scene with strong erotic elements is also humorous and witty, it has a fun-filled touch to it, and a sensitively chosen colour palette.
Creating and photographing these group scenes has lots of challenges”, comments Derek. “Painters often interpret perspective or lighting rather loosely. They can bend reality to create most dynamic and impressive scenes. In a photo studio with a group of models, problems are many: unwanted shadows often cover people closely standing together, or sometimes the perspective of the background does not go together with dynamics of the front composition which may require a slightly different focal length. It takes forever to set the right lighting using many strobes, and trying to make it look very simple and natural.”

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes. From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props - Derek, Costumes - Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation - Jon Hoadley.

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes.
From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup – Aleta, props – Derek, Costumes – Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation – Jon Hoadley.

One of the most challenging images to make was the Tavern based on genre paintings depicting scenes of everyday life, especially art of Adriaen Brouwer, Flemish artist of the 17th century. Brouwer himself felt very comfortable in taverns and often painted the peasant and “low life scenes” he witnessed. Like Brouwer’s work, Derek’s Tavern is full of movement and action. Portrait-like characters are engaged in complex interaction. Their faces are expressive, even slightly grotesque. Derek cannot resist in joining the merry company and playing a fiddle. His image is full of good-natured humour, and created with visible care for detail. The colour palette made of warm translucent browns and greys is well blended into the atmosphere of the whole. As Brouwer sometimes used his friends – painters, to model for him, Derek once again invited his friends from Victoria’s art photography scene to model for this image. One of the models actually depicts Brouwer himself, painting the vivid scene before him and clearly enjoying it.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria - model.

The Knight Of Might with the fine Michael Ward from Victoria – model.

While Derek’s Tavern makes you reach for a glass of beer, his Knight of Might stirs very different emotions. We see a gnarled man whose face is weathered, the skin of his face rough. Although his armoured body looks powerful and mighty, he looks exhausted, sensitive and vulnerable. He’s holding a lady’s handkerchief – is this the reason he looks so pensive? For how long he’s been separated from his loved ones, how much pain did he endure during his voyage? We’ll never know. Dark reflections of moonlight correspond with his brooding, inner landscape of the soul. This image was inspired by romantic paintings by John William Waterhouse. To successfully create specific mood and atmosphere of the image, Derek relays on models’ ability to deliver the best acting performance. Their creative output is vital to the success of the image. Here, Derek was aided by his longtime friend and a professional art model Michael Ward.

The Passing - Pieta. With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

The Passing – Pieta.
With Michael Ward and Stephanie Kingston.

Michael is also involved in another atmospheric image called The Passing – Pieta inspired by paintings of similar subjects by Michelangelo and Titian. Young woman mourning over the body of a dead man; his pale glowing flesh accentuates the feeling of sorrow and loss. The background of a derelict church reflects the feeling and mood of the piece.

Further exploration of darker themes brings Derek’s fascination with one of the most timeless and haunting Nightmare paintings by Henry Fuseli. Although having a different concept, also very Gothic and Freudian, Derek’s Monstrous Deception

Monstrous Deception - tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. WithBrandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

Monstrous Deception – tribute to Nightmares by Henry Fuseli. With Brandy Sapala, Derek as the monster, and Callum Shandley as the mirror reflection.

is equally scary. Like in Fuseli’s painting, the scene is made of gradual realizations; we need time to fully understand the horror. The young man kissing the girl is only a pretender. In fact, he is this shady monster-like creature who stares at us from darkness. His facial expression implies his annoyance with viewers for discovering his deception, while the lady on front of him seems to be unaware of it, falling into his trap. The scene is dramatically timed, slowly unfolding to show us additional, perhaps intentionally hidden details. Only 27 years after Fuseli painted his last version of the story, Mary Shelley wrote the famous piece of Gothic literature – Frankenstein.

Creating interaction and a narrative story in a similar way to paintings is yet another challenge. Old canvasses often have symbolic details and secondary interactions or meanings, which can be discovered as you take time to study a painting. Such multi-level dynamics require not only a fine planning and preparation, but also good acting skills of all the models, great concentration during the shoot and lots of patience. Many of my ready images are actually combined from best parts of several shots, like a jigsaw puzzle assembled of the most attractive elements picked from the whole session. Finely painted flying cherubs, angels, or special effects dazzling us on old masterpieces, require much planning and meticulous photo editing and I wish I could just paint them on my photos instead.”

Brown Over Green - Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Brown Over Green – Still Life. A tribute to paintings by Chardin.

Derek’s still life image Green Over Brown brings a different mood. Without the drama of other photographs in this series, it depicts a simple world of austerity and calm. You almost need to slow yourself down to appreciate it. Inspired by masters of still life, especially Chardin and Spanish “bodegon” painters, it shows the beauty of everyday objects that surround us. The items portrayed were selected not for their allegorical vanitas meaning but for their shapes, textures and colors. The objects are gradually emerging from the subtly toned background.

Pygmalion - a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek's favourite old masters. Xevv McModel and Brandon L. - models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant - Jon Hoadley.

Pygmalion – a tribute to Jean Gerome, one of Derek’s favourite old masters.
Xevv McModel and Brandon L. – models, makeup/body paint by Aleta Eliasen, light consultant – Jon Hoadley.

Jean-Leon Gerome, the prominent artist of Orientalism movement, was a keen follower of photography and adopted this new media for his work. He was an indefatigable traveller to the Middle East, frequently accompanied by a photographer. Gerome’s technique was of impeccable precision, and some of his paintings have almost visual reality and crispness of Photorealism. Derek’s Pygmalion drew inspiration from Gerome’s versions of the mythological story of Pygmalion, an artist who fell in love with the sculpture he created. The image depicts the moment when the sculpture of Galatea is brought to life by Pygmalion’s kiss.

For me, masterpiece paintings are the source of limitless inspiration. No matter how fancy our digital imaging will get, old canvasses will never stop thrilling us” – says Derek. Photographing architecture and landscape foran everyday living, I return to my world of art images like to my sanctuary, and I treasure every moment of this work. Now, with my art winning medals, getting internationally exhibited and sold, it gives me even more motivation than ever to continue.”

by Margaret Gajek, MA, writer, researcher, art historian, co-founder of Ozone Zone Books


All images copyright Derek Galon. Please respect our copyright. Thank you.

Derek’s art prints (limited editions and open editions) are available directly by contacting him at:
derek (at) ozonezonebooks.com  or from the Gallery Vibrante.Thank you, until next time – we hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, please FOLLOW us, click SHARE and show it to your friends.

Taken By Angels - Derek Galon's more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters.  With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright - models. Makeup - Aleta Eliasen.

Taken By Angels – Derek Galon’s more contemporary, light-hearted and humourous image taking from old canvas masters. With Michael Ward, Sharon Ace, Aleta Eliasen, Karissa T. and Jen Wright – models. Makeup – Aleta Eliasen.

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