Featured Photographers Mary Bel & Jonny Edwards

1. Tell us a bit about the image?

     This image was taken in Jonny’s studio just outside of Denver Colorado. I visited Colorado for the first time and I wanted to explore the mountains as well as see local art. I reached out to Jonny because he is an artist I greatly admire. I asked Jonny to maybe have a cup of coffee with me, as I just wanted to meet him and talk all things art related. However it was his idea to meet at his studio called Atelier Alchimia, and he proposed we have fun while getting to know each other and photograph each other. I was so excited about this opportunity, and I also thought since we are both self portrait photographers, that we should collaborate on a joint self portrait image. 

2. What inspired you to take the shot?

     I was inspired by the size of Jonny’s studio, and his huge range of photography props and extensive set design in the studio. Jonny has a very unique look which is memorable. If you do not know him, you might find his appearance to be a bit intimidating. But this is so far from the truth, as he is a very personable and friendly person. I proposed to johnny, that we shoot a joint self portrait as he…being this dark, ominous figure, unapproachable, and threatening. And I would encompass the complete opposite, soft, flowy, delicate and kind person. I absolutely love the song Gravity by Sarah Barellis. It has been such a favorite song of mine for years, because it can be interpreted as someone wanting to break free from what is holding them down. We all have our struggles, and I thought this theme would work nicely to help push the story of our join self portrait. 

3. What gear did you use for the shot including lighting?

      For the shot, we used constant light by Nanlight. We used a Forza 300B Bi-color light. We also used a Forza 500. Our Camera were both Sony mirrorless bodies. Mine was a Sony A7iii, and I used a 24-105mm lens. 

4. Tell us about the editing process?

     I can only speak about my editing process. We shot the images using a very slow shutter speed in order to capture the movement of the fabric. We made the fabric move continuously using shutter drag, while I stayed completely still. Jonny kept moving as well, because we felt it was important for the story to depict him as an almost unrecognizable figure. I did the primary tonal adjustments and color grading in capture one. Then I finished with targeted adjustments in photoshop. What we captured on camera was pretty close to what I envisioned as the final outcome. But the targeted color grading, and complimentary color on the color wheel really helped to solidify our overall vision. 

5. How does this piece reflect you as an artist?

      I thought it was really important for the story to be told in a small series of images. So I edited my images to be a tryptik (3 images together as a panel, displayed together). For the first image, I am showing the relationship and interpersonal connection between myself and this ominous figure. I am holding on to what is familiar (although what is familiar is not always good for us). The send image, I demonstrate a disconnect and break from that which holds me back (the figure) and looking onto an open space full of opportunity and optimism. The third image just shows Jonny, alone looking confused, displayed, disappointed and defeated. This rapture of energetic movement is still present in the image (you can see the motion in the fabric) as he realizes I have broken away from the gravity that was holding me down. As an artist, I feel we have the ability to interpret and tell a story that is not only personal to us, but ambiguous enough so that others can connect to it. 




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