In the first year of my photography degree, I looked at the work of Gjon Mili and his use of motion within his still-images. Mili’s work is fantastic and something I attempted to incorporate into my ‘Self-negotiated‘ assignment for Creative Apps. I kind of pulled this off, even if the final results weren’t to the standard I had in my head whilst planning that project.
Anyway, I’ve now found another photographer whose work in black and white I really like with the use of motion within the still-images. This photographer is called Alexey Titarenko and, unsurprisingly from the name, hails from Russia. He was born in then named Leningrad in 1962 (now named St. Petersburgh) and has gained degrees in both Photojournalism and Cinematic and Photographic Arts during the early parts of his journey as a photographer. He was interested in the medium of photography from the age of nine and had his first solo exhibition at the age of just sixteen after becoming the youngest ever member of the independent photography club ‘Zerkalo’ (The Mirror).
There are two exhibitions of Titarenko’s that I don’t think it an exaggeration to say that I love. City of Shadows (1991-1994) and New York (2004-present) are the ones that have stood out to me initially. I must admit that I have literally just found out about Titarenko’s work and haven’t looked at all of his work as yet so may indeed fine other works that I equally adore.
The style of many of these creations makes me think that the creative people responsible for the creation of the Harry Potter and more recent Fantastic Beasts movies may well have been influenced by Titarenko’s work. I say this as the movement captured in many of his works look like the ghostly swirling of some of the spell graphics in Harry Potter and the movement of one of the creatures in the first Fantastic Beasts film. The image titled “Boy, 1993” reminds me of a wizard teleporting in Harry Potter.
My favourite image from the City of Shadows series would have to be “Vasileostrovskaya Metro Station”.
Not only is the ghostly blur of the people in the image fantastic, but the way in which the image has been developed makes it look like it could actually have been a production created on a stage. Titarenko has allowed more light to hit the outer edges and corners of the image to create a vignette which compliments the brighter lit centre portion of the image. The longer exposure has captured the non-moving parts of the scene well and captured the details really well which makes them clear and sharp. Although I like many of the images in this exhibition, this image is one that truly floats my boat.
Although it was City of Shadows that caught my attention and attracted me to Titarenko’s work, when I went on to look at further work he has created, I found New York (2004-present). I’m coming to realise that I’m naturally drawn to black and white photography over colour photography but at the same time I’ve been trying to create black and white images with a hint of colour in them. I’ve been experimenting with blues and yellows of varying strengths and would you believe it, my new favourite photography artist, Alexey Titarenko, has been producing a style of work like this already.
I do really rather like this body of work as it is exactly what I’ve had in mind to try to create through the use of post-editing in Lightroom (or Photoshop if I really must – I’m not a fan, to be honest).
These are the kinds of images I could hang on my wall as I just find that they hit-the-spot; The black and white with motion and a hint of colour to give them something a little different and ‘more’.
Although I like the images with the hints of yellow and a bit of red on the flags etc. there’s an image in the gallery above that I’m also drawn to that has no colour. “Bryant Park” (2004) is of a style reminding me a little of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Hausser during his ‘Bright Period’. Usually, an artist will draw our attention to a certain aspect of an image by positioning them/it so that it is in pride of place or has other aspects of the image constantly leading us back to it. In the “Bryant Park” image, Titarenko uses another way to keep us coming back to the figure of the person walking along the footpath. By simply having the person as a lot darker element of the composition, we keep getting drawn back to them. The lines of the tall buildings in the background also lead us to the figure as does the angle of the tree on the right side of the image.
I’m starting to think that I might actually be forming a like for a certain style of imagery after all. The image I liked of Robert Hausser that I feel is of this same style is:
I think Hausser’s is a nicer, cleaner image than Titarenko’s, and I imagine some snooty know-it-all art critic would say I’m wrong in my assessment of the two images but, hey, who gives a ….
As I say, I genuinely think I’ve found one of my favourite photographers as his work is exactly what I’ve been leaning towards trying to create as I progress through my photography degree. I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this guy and his work, but now that I have, I’ll be sure to study it further.