HHS! Contender: Bryan Solarski By Stacy Oborn
* as published on the Hey, Hot Shot! photography competition blog, a Jen Beckman Project
The first words that came to my mind when viewing the work of Bryan Solarski were "constructed photography." Just thinking this provoked a meta-response of, "Well, isn't all photography essentially constructed?" While there are photographers that actually physically construct dioramas or stage scenes in miniature, and still others that might utilize the vastly kitsch appeal of lomographic action sample sequences, or photographing in 3-D, what we have here is someone that shows us the world made smaller, more colorful and appealingly more manageable.
Bryan utilizes an in-camera technical manipulation known as "Tilt/Shift" in order to create these colorful, miniaturized versions of actually experienced scenarios and events. Cartoonish, and alternately soft and then sharp-focused, looking at a world rendered through this lens induces not only perspective shifts but psychological ones as well. The viewer is cast back into a period of childhood, when everything one experiences feels larger-than-life.
While largely sticking to immediately recognizable places in our collective, global consciousness, Solarski depends upon our familiarity with these scenes in order to playfully manipulate our picture-perfect mental images of places like the canals of Venice or a hockey game at a major sports center. Instead, he presents these scenarios to us in toy-like technicolor, devoid of any actual personalized or otherwise contextualized meaning. You might thank him, really, if having been to one of these points-of-interest yourself, you had an emotionally complex experience or one fraught with personal "growth," and can now look at this collection of images as a tabula rasa of the place. Here you need only to recollect the color, the light, the sensory waves of the place, and enjoy being unencumbered by any of that pesky, grown-up contextual baggage.