Elisabeth Caren – Featured LACP Member, December 2016
I use photography as a medium to explore people, emotion, stories and ideas in a classic and cinematic style. I love photographing people and highlighting what I see as the most beautiful aspect of a person, which could be a physical or personality trait, or both! I am happiest when I’m telling a story with an image and collaborating with other artists – whether they are creative/art directors, actors, wardrobe stylists, hair stylists, make up artists or assistants. In this regard, I enjoy both commercial work (advertising, editorial, public relations/marketing) and fine art equally. It’s equally rewarding to me to be given and assignment and deliver to a client what they need in an image as it is to envision and create my own. There is the challenge of creative problem solving under pressure in both!
That said, I am very passionate about my personal and fine art work. I find that personal work for me is more of travel photography and personal exploration, which I don’t typically intend to show publicly. My fine art projects are intended for an audience because they are inspired by the desire to make a statement, ask a question or at the very least lead people to consider how they feel about a point of view. In general, I am fascinated with women’s rights and place in the world, where we are currently in terms of freedom and opportunity, and contrasting our current status with the past and questioning the future.
In my “Feminine Mystique” series I incorporate my lifelong fascination with classic paintings, passion for the dramatic arts and feminist point of view by depicting literary heroines from mythology and classic literature through a modern lens (figuratively and literally). My intention is to refer to classic paintings evoking a sense of history of both artistic expression and socio-political issues regarding women, providing contrast with our contemporary perception of women as well as technological advances in the visual medium of photography.
In my most recent work, I was inspired by the Film Noir genre and the archetypical character with rigidly defined and gender roles and singular representation of sexual identity, orientation, and relationships. “Double Identity” examines realities of humanity that were excluded from these films. Each photo is shot as if were a film production still photo with titles matching actual classic 1940s film noir films. The leading female character of Film Noir usually fell into two characters: the femme fatale, who uses her sexual attractiveness and cunning to manipulate men, as it’s her only option to gain power and independence, and the conventional devoted wife and mother, typically portrayed as dull, who has no autonomy, a role that the femme fatale rejects. Meanwhile, the leading men in Film Noir are either a “tough guy” who cannot show emotion or the socially alienated man who is usually thrust into a confusing situation where he is vulnerable, especially when encountering the femme fatale. In this imagined plot line, there is a double deception of each couple; the “other woman” and the “other man” are not who the characters, nor a 1940s audience would expect. Tension, suspicion, secrets, danger, deception and desire are all themes in Film Noir, which typically lead to the destruction of the lives of the characters. This would most definitely also be the case if the character was found out to be anything other than heterosexual. A significant difference of note is that this series of photographs are in vivid color, representing that we have as a society we have come a long way in our acknowledgement and acceptance of contrast and diversity in relationships and identity and life is not as black and white as Hollywood had wanted us to believe.