Analysis: David Lachapelle Photography

Initial Image references of Set Themes

I started by researching photographers whose images have a coherent set theme in their bodies of work, rather than individual photos as it is. One particular photographer’s works stood out for me: David Lachapelle. Using his works as a starting point, I begin to analyse what of his works, the visual elements that had attracted me.

Other photographers whom I have found in my research (though not set themes) include:

(L) Julian Calverley, Terri Weifenbach, Protik Hossain, Martin Rak
(P) Nikki Harrison, Dmitry Arhar, Stanislav Istratov, Rey Vladyc Mangouta
(S) Dina Belenko, Louie Rochon

Their images can be found on my Pinboard – Initial image references.

David Lachapelle

Land scape: Anaheim

Anaheim is a city outside Los Angeles, in Southern California. It is home to the Disneyland Resort, a massive, colourful complex of family-friendly, Disney-themed rides, restaurants, hotels and shops. David Lachapelle probably made  this image in reference to the resort, in the sense the complexity of the elements in the image and the brightly lit and colourful environment, this suggests that there liveliness and excitement going on.

I like the how he approaches the image by using saturated colours to emphasize on the complex elements and round objects, in contrast with the cloudless blue sky and the plain dessert sands. Upon closer observation, the land scape depicted here (as well as others in the series) appears to be metaphoric, or a composite of different objects, or a diorama. There is a certain realism, yet at the same time somewhat surreal.

Kanye West: Riot

Photography can often bridge the gap between art and commercialism, politics and advertising, still frame and moving image. In this image, he has created an unexpected depth of story in a mere snapshot. In this series titled “The Passion of Christ”, features pop celebrity Kanye West. The office buildings in the background sets the stage; the contingent of riot policemen armed with batons and shields in action; the fallen police officer and blazing fire on the tire heighten the seriousness of the situation, and Kanye West holding a red flag on one arm, and the other arm wide open, as though the protagonist of the story. There are certain religious elements add into the image, yet bright reflection from the riot shields clearly suggest this was a staged scene in a controlled environment.

Aristocracy One

“He avoids academic understatement and educated insertion of cynical preaching into ideological discussions of contemporary theory. At the same time, he does not flaunt his clear preference for mundane language rife with hackneyed symbols and cliché images; instead he simply uses it with rich and piercing, stylised creative freedom. He stages wild scenes and dark adventure stories, replete with images and events, arranged in one-shot across the entire frame, some of them requiring more than one viewing to grasp fully.”

– Nili Goren, Curator, Tel Aviv Museum

What I liked about David Lachapelle’s body of works shown here, can be summarised into three things:

1)  Use of bright lighting and rich colours to emphasise on the complexity of his stylised visual elements.

2) The stylised visual elements that he used to convey his ideas and the fact that they are most probably staged shot, meant that he is meticulous in his framing of the image.

3) To convey a particular idea, a landscape may not necessary be an authentic landscape, or portraiture, or still life, so to say.

Julian Calverley

On the other hand, Julian Calverley’s body of works belong to the other spectrum of photographic style, as compared to David Lachapelle. While Julian’s works do not portray a highly stylised staged shoots or use of richness in colours; he uses colours in a more subtle way, but made use of dramatic light to shape his subjects.

Lochan na h-achlaise, highlands of Scotland. view no. 2 – 2012
Commissioned People.
Automobile
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