Friday, September 04, 2009

Bea Last

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OK, enough of the wallowing in self pity. I can only take so much, although it seems even that is considerably more than anyone else around me can put up with. I was tempted to just delete the last post, but somehow that seems unfair on the wonderful people who took the time to comment and tell me to stop acting like a wuss. Occasionally I just need to scream at the universe, and if that's not an option, write a blog post about it.

So, on with the show.

I recently did a photo shoot with a wonderful artist, Bea Last. She creates large abstract paintings, which have an incredible quality of light, texture and emotion to them. Unfortunately, small web sized images cannot begin to capture the intensity of her work.

Luckily for me, she wasn't wanting my photographic skills for her paintings, but for images of herself. Whether you are publicising yourself through the web, exhibitions or magazine articles, people want to see photos of the artist, despite the fact most artists I know would much rather hide behind their art than stand in front of it.

One of the more enjoyable aspects for me was she was not looking for glamour shots and positively embraced the lines of a life lived, that are beginning to form and settle in. She has been seen as the "pretty little thing" in the past and has no desire to battle the patronising superiority of some in the art world who were more interested in her looks than her art.


Bea Last

Although she did draw the line at me offering to add more wrinkles, for me it was a delight to explore the face of a person comfortable in their own skin.

Infinitely more interesting than an airbrushed, impossibly smooth skinned 21 year old.

This next shot developed out of something completely unplanned.

Bea was sitting up against one of the only clear areas of wall in her studio so I could take the head shots. I pulled back with the camera and saw this composition.


Bea Last in her studio - click for larger image

With the figure in the middle of the image, and the revealing of the reflected light on the left, I would never have considered setting up such a scene, and yet somehow it worked. And once we did selective colour on the paintings, the tubes and the paint splatters on the skirting board, Bea was delighted with the outcome and I was able to enjoy a wee *smug* moment.

If you're interested in seeing some of the other photos of the session with Bea Last, I've put up a gallery on my Photography website just click on this sentence
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25 comments:

hope said...

I don't know who to commend more...you or your subject! What a nice change of pace to see a woman embrace who she is rather than trying to cover it up....or bribe the photographer to airbrush her into no-one-looks-like-that land.

Sometimes those "happy accidents" in photography turn out to be the best ones. Nice job!

PI said...

Wonderful face. I'd say she was Greek but Anna Magnani was Italian wasn't she?

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - there doesn't have to be a hierarchy - you can just commend us both :)

Pat - Bea is half Maltese and half Welsh

Eryl Shields said...

These photos are fab and she is gorgeous. I'm sure I have one of her painting lurking about in here too, waiting for a frame. Good job, Kim.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

very compelling - intense and intriguing - love your work - and the subject is stunning as well -
great post!

mapstew said...

Fab pics of a most attractive lady!

St Jude said...

I entirely agree it is wonderful to see a 'real' woman who is confident and at home in her skin. Infinitely better than the airbrush fodder served up so widely these days.

PI said...

All theshots are good but the two on your post are outstanding and IMO 'the ones.'

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - Maggie and I both love her artwork, and if we had a few bob to spare

GypsyWoman - thank you :)

Mapstew - now you're making it sound seedy...

St Jude - the problem is, knowing how it's done, every time I see one of those pics in a magazine, I can see the airbrushing. It's a bit like watching a magic trick when you know how it's done - it holds no interest at all.

Pat - thank you. Btw, I see you commented last night just after midnight, and this morning at 7am. Are you not sleeping well?

mapstew said...

But you HAVE given her those 'come to bed' eyes, no?

Kim Ayres said...

Mapstew - I thought "come to bed eyes" were usually accompanied by a yawn...

mapstew said...

:¬)

Charlie said...

Damn you're good, Kim.

And I've recognized airbrushing since the early days of Playboy Magazine which, at the age of thirteen or fourteen, I mainly read for the articles. They used to airbrush Mr. Hefner, you see...

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Ah, love the photos site. You are a maestro with the camera. Better than Austin Powers!

Kim Ayres said...

Mapstew - :¬D

Charlie - I keep telling you that, but you still haven't figured out how to fly me over to take your portrait. Don't forget I can remove all the tubes and wires in Photoshop. Or add more in if you want a bigger sympathy vote. I could even airbrush in Hugh Hefner for you...

Daphne - Yeah, baby, yeah!

Candace said...

This is absolutely amazing. I would have to agree with you. I am new to photography even and want to learn more, but even I wouldn't have thought of this. You pulled of the impossible here. It's beautiful and she is beautiful. Not just in the usual sense either. You can tell by the pictures that she is confident in herself and isn't afraid to show who she REALLY is. Again, amazing!

I found your blog from Blogs of Note. So far, I love what I see and hope you don't mind if I decide to follow your blog. Good day.

Un[Censored] said...

Awesome black and white contrast, it's amazing to see such detail. Do you use digital or medium format?! It really took me back to the Richard Avedon exhibit I saw a few weeks ago and I just love the portraits, so far. Then again, I love black and white photography, period.

The Laundry Queen said...

Simply said, I love the photos.

Kim Ayres said...

Candice - thank you for your warm words. Photography, like anything else requires practice and passion if you want to develop it. Part of the skill is not necessarily about always knowing what you want in advance, but recognising what is working when it accidentally happens :)

Un[Censored] - I'm a digital man - I like to have the control to take multiple photos and see immediately if I'm moving in the right direction and I like to have the digital control of post processing on the computer, rather than through chemicals and dark rooms. Thank you for your kind words :)

Laundry Queen - welcome and thank you :)

minortragedy said...

she's stunning! and your photography is fantastic!

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you! Be sure to tell any rich friends about me :)

austin said...

Compelling image ..

The pictures are no less than the face demands. Of course photishop & all that can do wonders but the character of the subject is needed to make the snapper's gig possible. There are only so may ways to make a moose look like a butterfly, n'est pas? With Bea it's the polar opposite; to capture the minutiae & show it large.

She has the artist's eye & the brains to match, so she knows how to project that idea into your hands. If Ozzie the Eskimo was a photographer she'd have him taking pictures of fridges. It is not using but the art of being seen. It's like the dim November day telling you Winter is coming without resorting to a blizzard. Top marks again Bea.

Betimes an artist can be more fully seen for their diversity & by this I mean if you think you see all of her, try being in a car she's driving. Bring flowers if you think of it & hang on to your hat. You can be from safe to scared shitless, all achieved with her effortless unrelenting charm. Top marks again Bea.

The 'add more wrinkles' bit is another echo of [her] charm [see above for using the artist's eye] but Bea has always been one of a moment yet somehow timeless, or rather outside of time. Einstein would eat his socks. Feynman would eat her's. I base my observation on seeing her for not much more than a moment but the moment still stays. If you tell her to mind the road she'll say the road minds her. The road better watch out.

Thanks for your good work oh Bearded One.

Kim Ayres said...

Austin - do I think I captured the full Bea? Absolutely not. What I caught was an aspect of her at one point in time while we were playing with ideas, with a camera, in her studio.

We are all multi-faceted and I daresay if I'd been taking photos as she was driving, they'd have been very different.

To me, that's half the fun of being a photographer :)

austin said...

You got it fine, no worries .. the Big Picture.

matthewrandle said...

Matt likes this.