I have been a big fan of Miss Aniela’s work for a long time. I really admire her self-portraits but I feel that her latest series of work, Surreal Fashion is really exceptional. In fact, I think it could really change the way photographers shoot fashion. But is it really about fashion?
I understand that Miss Aniela is a fine art photographer, who has ventured into creating these amazing fashion events, but realistically, what is her work really about?
When I look at her series of work, I see images of amazing clothes worn by amazing models shot at amazing locations. But I don’t see a fashion photograph; I see an image that hasn’t fully decided if it belongs in the realms of fashion or fine art photography.
The taking and reusing animals from old paintings is a wonderfully creative idea, but at the end of the day, these images (in their own right) aren’t really Miss Aniela’s work. I like what she’s done and in no way am I condemning her for creating such visual photographs, but I feel that taking art and placing it in a photograph does not make it your work. Sure, she may credit the artist’s but I feel that that doesn’t really translate the vision and passion they used to paint these animals, which has been completely forgotten in translation.
Yes, I respect that she has given a new life to these animals but I feel that in most of her images, they serve as a distraction to the initial focus as the image rather than add to it. If the image is about fashion, they why the animals? Surely they aren’t there only to add a surreal context to the image? Surely Miss Aniela is much more creative with her images (as her self portraits suggest) and can create a surreal atmosphere without adding tons of postproduction into her images. In my opinion, her best work in the series are the ones where she has used no animals at all.
In fact, I really worry about the amount of postproduction in her images. Sure, her images are amazing because of it, and sure, she can sell each image for £1000 because you know that they are worth in in postproduction alone, but realistically, why does the original image need to be altered so much?
More importantly, what affect will that have on the future of photography? If thousands of photographers are looking at her work and aspiring to create work like hers, and fashion designers are looking at her work and wanting that look for their garments, then where will fashion photography end up?
I respect the merging of fashion and fine art photography as they are both genres of photography that I find myself creating, but by merging them together, Miss Aniela has created images that are neither. They seem to be stuck in a weird limbo of reality and unreality, where you are looking at neither a photograph nor a painting. Calling her images photographs does somewhat of a disservice to photography, as her image was not made in camera. Even if her images were not made in camera, the fact that the animals are not photographs she has taken means (technically) that she cannot call her images photographs as it retains elements that have not been taken with a camera, which is what, ultimately, photographs are.
At the same time, Miss Aniela does not paint her images (albeit you could argue that the painterly quality she achieves through postproduction could count for something) so the images are not paintings.
Is it a piece of art?
I’m not sure. Her work seems to have the painterly quality and visual aesthetic that is associated with art but it’s being sold a photography. (I don’t really want to go into that whole “what is art?” debate right now, but I’ll create a super long blog post about it sometime, soon. Maybe). I can see why it could be considered art. She certainly seems to have taken a huge amount of time to post process the image. So much so, she probably could have painted it in that time.
To be honest, Miss Aniela’s surreal fashion series confuses me. It seems to be photography, posing as art, without having been painted, whilst remaining limited to the viewfinder of the camera.
Is it art? Is it photography?
It may be awesome but to be honest, I think it’s both and neither at the same time.