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Artist Statement
Rachel Pearlman

I find the great filmmaker Jean Luc-Goddard’s statement, ‘Photography is truth’ to be of inspiration to me both for its validity, as well as for how it motivates an exploration of what exactly constitutes a truthful image. As a photojournalistic photographer with a Fine Arts background, my personal work deals with both capturing reality as it appears in nature, as well as tweaking this familiarity through digital manipulation to produce slightly fantastical images that often provoke a second look.

I do not have a specific subject or color in mind when I go out and shoot, but rather rely on my instinct and emotion when deciding what to photograph. This method is inherently unpredictable and organic in nature, and has shaped my shooting style over time. I prefer to work in this unrefined style, allowing my subjects to go about their daily routine without acknowledging my existence. I believe that the resulting photograph will speak volumes about both the physical aspect of capturing the moment. It will also speak to the natural presence of the subject, who often does not know they are being photographed.

Physically, my irregular way of working includes lying in any position I can to capture the most interesting angle, or running at the speed of an unrestrained toddler to capture a running body in motion. While this may require an uncomfortable positioning of my body or camera, it almost always produces an affable end result. Emotionally, I look for pleasing organic shapes, almost always shoot in natural light even at night-fall, and I am just as fascinated by color and sharpness as I am by lack of color and softness. Of course, this all depends on my mood that day. My day-to-day emotions determine my decision to go out and shoot, and I follow the mantra that if your heart is not in your photography, you will fail to produce meaningful images.

Shooting seemingly normal subjects at unusual vantage points is my method of operation. As an artist who insists on capturing the unspoken normalcy of life in this rather unconventional way, I have devoted myself to practicing my art form in a similar manner. The saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, is a complex statement but can be boiled down to one thing: perspective. The common denominator in my images is a profound sense of perspective and I rely on my unique way of positioning the lens to create excitement about my images, no matter how mundane or 'normal' they may appear. Playing games with depth of field and timed exposures help me achieve my goal. Rather than allowing these images to sit untouched, I use digital hand painting and manipulation to affect my images, allowing them to stand out as strong, emotionally rich pieces of art. I always regard myself as not just a photographer, but as an artist whose medium is a camera and the computer. It is this layered approach to production that allows me to be successful in both my personal, as well in my commercial work. The time-consuming nature of my work also speaks to the image as an art piece, and I take pride knowing that each image I produce has been cared for and looked after like a child.

Many people ask me when I can tell a photograph is finished. My answer? It just feels right. The emotion produced in the smile of a toothless baby, and how the routine way of applying mascara on your wedding day can be so romantically nostalgic, is what interests me and satisfies me at the same time. I know I have been successful when somebody asks how I was able to capture a specific image, or where the specific image was taken, especially if it is a place that is fairly recognizable from any other vantage point. To be able to capture real life and manipulate it in a way that suggests feelings of passion, happiness, sadness or even fear, is a gift that I cherish sharing with my community – especially when the final image transcends its subject conceptually.