The Creative Reality of Rus Anson

Editor’s Note: Our second featured artist for February is a photographer I deeply respect.  Rosanna brings a deep and practiced commitment to her work.  She skillful works out ideas, from conception to finished print with close attention to detail.  We first met while both studying in the MFA Photography department at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.  Much more of her work can be found on her Website: rusanson.com.

History, With a Twist

“Some of my fashion stories have a historic vibe with a modern twist. I like to look back to the past for inspiration but always try to make something that hasn’t been done before – to reinterpret the classics in a unique, delicate and contemporary way.  This series of images was inspired by 17th-century Dutch oil paintings.  Dutch masters specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life.  These scenes were the starting point of Vermeer´s women.  Vermeer was a painter from the Dutch Golden Age specializing in genre paintings and scenes of everyday life that provided many insights into the daily life of 17th-century citizens of all classes. I studied his works and extracted the main elements of these daily scenes.

My intention was to make the images look like oil paintings and I could achieve this effect with the lighting style, long exposures, and the use of my Pentax 6×7 medium format camera with a very bright lens.

Sometimes my fashion stories just require hanging fabric as a backdrop next to a window, but other times, like for this shoot, it’s necessary to have help in preparation from other people.  I wanted to create images that people recognize as familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.  I wanted to mix the classical elegance with a modern and contemporary look.  We combined period pieces with contemporary jewelry and costume hats with designer creations.  I wanted to include some religious elements like crosses and nuns’ hats but integrate them in an aggressive and unexpected way.  When the set was designed and all the elements on the table were arranged, the model started posing.  I’d worked with Ellen Hancock from City Model Management a few times in the past.  She is one of the most talented and professional models I’ve worked with.

Sharon Maloney, wardrobe stylist for this shoot and a good friend of mine, did an incredible job with the clothing and head accessories.  We both designed the set together and in almost all of the images we followed the classical rule of the Divine Triangle, which is a guideline that was used by classical artists to ensure that the composition of their paintings was pleasing to the eye.”

On the Set

“About my working habits… I like the creative process to be very detailed.  Once I have the concept in mind, I usually meet with the stylist and we brainstorm about specific photographs.  I like to sketch; it helps me visualize the scenes beforehand.  Once we have a more specific idea about each one of the scenes, we look for the clothes and the props.  The next step is to find the right model(s) for the story.  I don’t like to have a lot of people on set, just the strictly necessary.  We are usually only five of us, the model, the stylist, the makeup artist, a photo assistant and me.  In shoots where I am using a large format camera it’s just the model and me.  I like the complicity that takes place on small sets.

[With photography,] I believe it is possible to create anything we could possibly imagine in reality with patience, hard work, and a great team

I don’t like to rush so I usually prepare the scene one or a couple of days in advance to make sure everything is ready the day of the shoot.  I like to be involved in almost every aspect of my photo shoots but at the same time I am conscious of my limitations.  I believe it is possible to create anything we could possible imagine in reality with patience, hard work and a great team.  And this is my dream, to find a team of stylists and set designers with magic powers to read my mind and create together fantastic and surreal worlds in reality, inspired by our imagination and daydreams.”

Join the Discussion

More of Rus Anson’s work can be found on her Website: rusanson.com.  Also, meet us on Facebook to share your thoughts on her work and writing.  As always, we benefit financially when you use the Sponsors links at the bottom of this page for your online shopping; Thanks!

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