Artistic photography with feeling

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 19:00
A dancer poses for photographs at Beluga Point.

A dear friend told me to check out Gutierrez Photography based here in Eagle River. When I viewed their variety of photographic styles on their website, I was taken away by the way their photographs could capture the human spirit in almost 3D. There was still something very artistic I appreciated about their work. But what was it?

To figure it out, I met with Marco Gutierrez. His partner who is his wife, Becky, could not be there. The first thing I noticed when entering their studio was a variety of their prized photos. We talked a lot about the equipment they use to create the unique “look” in their photographs.

Some tools Marco likes to use to craft their art are the camera, Canon 5D Mark III, sometimes Photoshop and light modifiers. Light modifiers can range from soft box lights to using something as simple as large pieces of foam core.

“Light modifiers help shape and control the light in a photo,” Marco said. “I like the challenge of getting light where I want it.”

Half of the photos he shoots he uses a 70–200mm lens.

They have a movie screen where they share a variety of photographs to help them understand what style the client does or doesn’t like. It’s very important for Marco and Becky to convey the client’s story.

“We like to get to know who the person really is and where they are in life,” Marco said.

Some people choose to go traditional or want an “in the moment portrait.” Marco showed me an example of an “in the moment” senior high school photo of a young man playing guitar and behind him is Eagle River Valley.

In this case, the boy had a specific idea of what he wanted based on a video game. One girl told them she liked shoes. They shot a sweet photograph of her in the studio with her large collection of shoes circled around her feet.

On the wall behind Marco was a photograph of a dancer captured doing a jump in mid-air with a large piece of caramel taffeta material flowing behind her.

“My favorite thing to shoot is dancers,” said Marco.

Marco has had the opportunity to shoot a New York City Ballet dancer and dancers locally. He explained to me how they get the taffeta material to look like it is flowing behind many of the dancer photos. Sometimes they use foam core and they wave it, use blow dryers, and once they even tried a leaf blower, but that was overkill — it almost blew off the model’s make up.

The technique that works the best is having two people off camera waving the material and as soon as the photo is taken they let go of it. Sometimes it takes 30 or 40 times to get the picture the way they want it.

As Marco continued to show me different photos taken with natural light or not, some felt like I could actually touch the models’ skin and many have a magical quality that reminds me of my favorite fantasy painter who did paintings from 1913-1922, Maxfield Parish.

When I told Marco this he said, “Well, actually we use Maxfield Parish as an inspiration for our personal photos.”

I finally figured out what else it was I appreciated so much in Gutierrez Photography’s work. Even though Marco said they use Maxfield Parish’s style for their personal projects, I could see the influence of Parish’s paintings in many of their projects.

Another personal project Gutierrez Photography just finished is a “Together For Hope” calendar featuring models that have been touched by breast or cervical cancer in some way. The proceeds from the sales of the calendar go to YWCA’s ENCOREplus program, which removes barriers to cancer screening services and communicates the importance of early detection.

The calendar photos show the models in an artistic position of physical power and endurance. The cover of the calendar was shot at Arctic Valley with a model wrapped in silk, patiently laying there as Becky and her sister used their own physical power and endurance to keep the strobe light in place due to strong winds.


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