Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alex Prager: Cinematic Photography

Photography and video share almost the same early history, yet the two disciplines rarely go together in one package. Professional photographers stick to their camp, while filmmakers do the same. Even with the advent of video-capable DSLRs, it's hard to find artists who utilize both mediums and produce good results. Alex Prager is an exception with her images which can be accurately described as "Cinematic Photography".

Alex Prager is a photographer and filmmaker who only began her career in the field when she stumbled upon a special photograph when she was a teenager. A nearby museum at that time was staging an exhibit for the works of the great color photographer William Eggleston. The photograph in question was Eggleston's 1972 photograph, "Shoes Under Bed", an inconspicuous image of a couple of worn out dress shoes and sneakers in an older gentleman's room.

For Prager however, that photograph lit a light bulb in her mind, and it was at that moment that she decided to be a photographer. Eggleston's works in general became a source of inspiration for Prager, who uses saturated colors in most of her photographs as a way to heighten the stories in her images. Her other inspiration comes from old silent films and film noir.

Prager then began shooting for magazines in Los Angeles in order to support herself as a serious artist in the field of photography. Each of her photography projects are part of a larger series that all share similar themes. In her 2007 series, "Polyester", all the models play archetypal roles found in mid-20th century films. In the 2008 "Big Valley", the women play younger roles of 1960s and 1970s movies. These roles take on a darker tone in her 2010 "Weekend" and 2012 "Compulsion" which pay homage to last century's suspense films, especially those of Alfred Hitchcock.

The photographer also has an ongoing series called "Film Stills", which, as its name implies, heavily emulates still images from the color movies of the 1950s. This cinematic style along with her use of strong colors are what makes Prager's images unique in the world of photographic arts.

In using rich colors for her photographs, Prager fights for the same recognition William Eggleston did when he started using color photography when every other serious photographer was using black-and-white film. For Prager, the colors aren't just circumstantial, rather they tell a story unto themselves. Her photo shoots are also meticulously done, down to the costumes and wigs that she uses which the photographer feels are essential to telling her stories.

For Prager, her movie-like photographs pay homage to the "perfect costumes and sets" of old films which help sell the movies even though they told violent or imperfect stories. In the same way, Prager's photographs hint at a larger story before and after the moment presented in her images. For her cinematic stills, Prager was awarded the Foam Paul Huf award for 2012, a unanimous decision by this year's jury.

This is Alex Prager's website. Her cinematic photography, specifically her "Film Stills", can be found here. Her past works have been published in different collections, among them Polyester, The Big Valley / Week-end and Compulsion.


The Angry Lurker said...

Damn I like those!

Bart said...

where is the cab driver?

Ray Rousell said...

Some great pics, I like the taxi pic, very atmospheric.

Generally Disgruntled said...

Ha. The Birds. Classic. Great photos. Had to do a double-take on the double amputee.

T. Roger Thomas said...

I absolutely love where Alex is drawing her inspiration! Older Hollywood and film noir are such rich sources for mining imo. I have to find out more about the work of this woman but the San Diego library isn't cool enough to have any of her books in their collection.

Photography Freelancing Site said...

Awesome taken, madly liked those.

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