Holly McGlynn | Project Review by Miranda Gavin
#2 Photofusion Members’ Project Review
For my project review, I have been sent a selection of Holly’s photographs from a portfolio that appears to be drawn from lifestyle and fashion editorial spreads for women’s magazines and high-street fashion. However, as they are not captioned it is difficult to know what is commissioned and what is personal work and where the two overlap in content and approach. I am also not sure whether these have been created with the help of a stylist/art director and it would be interesting to know how much creative freedom Holly has in her shoots.
What stands out in Holly’s work is the confident and bold use of colour in many of the photographs, especially primary and neon colours, giving her portfolio a playful upbeat retro feel. For me, the images of women are stronger than those of men—bar the one of the man sitting on the steps—and these make up the majority of Holly’s portfolio. I particularly like the images with a yellow background and yellow washing-up gloves, which are complemented by the use of fire-engine red and turquoise. I also like the sequence of three portraits, which opens with a woman watering a garden, and the two bubble-gum shots—headshot and pink balloon-in-front-of-face shot. The least effective are the close-up headshots in which the model’s face is reflected in a mirror, as it is too familiar a visual trope and needs to be carefully orchestrated. I also felt that the use of flash in the darker interior shots created shadows that were too harsh and heavy, as overall I preferred Holly’s lighter shots.
As the use of colour is key to Holly’s visual aesthetic it may be be interesting for Holly to look at some black-and-white fashion and portraiture images by photographers such as Yousef Karsh and Richard Avedon who both photographed in monochrome and are known for their accomplished use of artificial light. There is a big difference between shooting with black and white images already pre-visualised in one’s mind, and de-saturating a photograph that was originally conceived of in colour.
Looking at Holly’s work, discernible influences and associations include Guy Bourdin’s editorial and advertising images for which he used the formal elements of colour and form to eye-catching effect. His highly stylised work for French Vogue during the 1970s combined the surreal and the erotic and he is known for his meticulous attention to detail and his unique approach to visual storytelling. His Walking Legs series (1979) — a campaign commissioned by Charles Jourdan featuring a pair of mannequin’s legs wearing Jourdan shoes — is worth looking at as Holly has a number of images that also feature disembodied legs. Her blog further reveals that she is working on a personal project Pins and Needles, which I would like to have seen.
Other suggestions are Sarah Moon’s distinct personal and commercial work especially Sarah Moon 12345 for the way she uses primary colours such as yellow in a darker, more diffused way that is both intriguing and atmospheric giving her work an identifiable personal style.
Eva Stenram for her black-and-white series Part for which she uses digital post-production techniques to strip away bodies reducing images to disembodied parts.
Julie Fullerton-Batten’s, Personal, Personal 1, see leg shots, and Fine Art category, Teenage Stories.
Viviane Sassen for her sculptural and daring fashion imagery. See her book In and Out of Fashion.