Sean Scheidt Photographs Before And After Burlesque Transformations

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Everyone loves a Before and After, and Sean Scheidt’s photography series “Burlesque” is a wonderful example of the power of makeup, costume, props, and attitude. Scheidt has captured the transformation of burlesque performers from street clothes to stage wear in his behind-the-scenes images.

“I use basic lighting and a black backdrop. Black is emptiness. You place a person there and they are who they are. The interview process is really as much about getting the person comfortable as it is about getting to know them. As the shoot progresses, they transform into the persona they portray on stage. I do ask them, ‘What defines you on stage’ but otherwise try to stay back and let the narrative develop.” (Source)

Bawdy, provocative, confrontational — burlesque has been enjoying a revival, fronted by pop-culture celebrity Dita Von Teese who began performing in 1992. Though the acts include nudity, it can almost be beside the point. On stage, the larger-than-life personas use their time to make people think.

In his portraits, Scheidt captures the virtually nondescript everyday face of the performers. These are people who, aside from the occasional colored hair, look, well… normal. In Scheidt’s description of the work, he says that they tended to be quite reserved at first, which made the transformation into their characters all the more transfixing.

“Capturing those moments, I believe, helps to humanize these performers. If you were just seeing the “after” shots alone, you might make certain pre-conceived judgments about the person behind the make-up. I hope this series gets people to think about their reactions to these men and women.” (Source)

Not unlike drag, burlesque exaggerates, forcing us to examine society’s standards of beauty, sensuality, gender, and power. Scheidt has unmasked the people behind the performance by presenting them in more clothes, but with less artifice.

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Brutal Photographs Of Teen Boxers Before And After Fights

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For his powerful series 141 Boxers, photographer Nicolai Howalt shoots young amateur boxers in Denmark before and after their first brutal fight. The artist, known in part for his elegant images of car wrecks, once again finds an eerie beauty in violence, capturing sweaty faces sprinkled in fresh blood. On the left, his subjects present their game faces, poised in a moment of calm determination prior to the battle; on the right, the violence and competition has ended, leaving their faces bruised and swollen.

For these teenage athletes, the first foray into the ring presents itself as a rite of passage out of childhood and into manhood. Afterwards, they are irrevocably changed, as if all of puberty were condensed into a single test of machismo. As viewers, we might be unsettled to see these round, blushingly cheeks marked by punches; though outwardly baby-faced, Howalt’s subjects possess a knowingness and understanding of aggression that transcends their youth. Thrust into the environment of the controversial sport, these pimpled, wide-eyed adolescents are aglow with their own glistening sweat and an uncomfortable sense of adult virility.

Arranged neatly in a grid as they are in gallery installations, Howalt’s violent images are paradoxically sterile. Set against a pale gray background, his subjects seem restrained in a way that contradicts the nature of their sport. Many of the photographs look like clean mugshots pinned cleanly and simply on a wall; the young boxers are at the mercy of our judgement. Do we condemn or celebrate this ruthless sport? Take a look. (via Agonistica)

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Existential Before And After Portraits From Ana Oliveira

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Photographer Ana Oliveira‘s Identities II is a touching series of portraits.  She begins with old photographs of her subjects and through similar lighting, clothing, and poses she creates a parallel photograph.  As much as sixty years lies between some of the older and newer portraits.  The two portraits arranged side by side become a sort of existential before and after.  I find myself imagining what took place in the decades between the two photographs, evidence of something in the now more pronounced lines in each sitters face.  Its difficult not to envision expressions of expectation in the younger portraits, and mixtures of disappointment or content in their older counterparts.

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