In Dreams; Dreams Are Wishes Your Heart Makes
The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.--Okakura Kakuzo
These days my influences are not other still photographers, but movie directors, especially Asian filmmakers who, unbridled by Hollywood's fiscal realties, feel free to create imagery that defies reality. Akira Kurosawa's 1990 film Dreams (a.k.a. Yume) is a collection of tales based on the legendary director's actual dreams. One of its eight episodes is called "The Blizzard" in which a team of mountaineers is saved by spiritual intervention. Sounds simple, but this hypnotic imagery was produced by an aging Kurosawa who was almost blind, yet in the last years of his life created visuals that are not easily forgotten.
One of the most creative professionals working today, Chip Simons' images combine humor, wide angles, and splashy color that not only tell a story but often a funny one. To give you some insight into what you'll encounter, read Simons' "Thoughts About Photography": "Once upon a time I shot a computer big wig and he was such an ass, I thought (and said) `you know I don't think people care what you look like anyway but they do care what you say' so I proceeded to shoot him out of focus and as a silhouette."
You know you're not in Kansas when you read the names of Simons' galleries: My Black Period, Humans, Scenics, Postcards, Bunny, Light Painting, I am a Dog, Monsters and Things, and Things I Don't Know What To Call. The "Humans" gallery combines dynamic studio portraits along with beautiful environmental portraits. "Scenics" is what you might think although they have a decidedly Holgaesque look about them. "Postcards" are anything but what you might think and include funny images of animals in humorous takes on society's foibles, casting Simons as the photographic incarnation of Mark Twain. "Bunny" is a fusion of portrait and Photoshop into a surrealistic mélange of rabbit people that manages to be sweet and funny at the same time, a theme continued with "Monsters and Things." The "I am a Dog" gallery is an in-your-face (if you're a pooch) look at a dog's life, combining the same wacky, irreverent touch that permeates his work. The design skillfully blends thumbnails with large images so you can appreciate Simons' work. This is one of the most truly original sites that have appeared here in a long, long time.
Alex MacAulay's wedding photography and site design are beautiful complements. Eschewing the "smile and cut the cake" aesthetics of pedestrian wedding photography, he seamlessly combines art with reportage in a style that is lively, elegant, and contemporary for this century--not the last. The Portfolio includes enough large chunks of entire weddings to get a sense of the event and appreciate the stylistic achievements of the photographers. The site also features the work of Kate MacAulay and Rebecca Clarke, and although individual images are not credited, it doesn't seem to matter; the high quality of all the work speaks for itself. The Gallery contains dazzling photographs from different weddings and is presented in a slide show format. Music accompanies the images but you can turn it off. As is becoming the trend, the site includes a blog containing text and even more of the achingly beautiful photography that MacAulay & Company are capable of producing. This is hands-down the best wedding photography site I've seen in a while and blends elegant imagery with site design that enhances those photographs. (Note: Even with my broadband connection, the site was occasionally slow, but be patient, the striking images and unique site design make it worth the wait.)