Commercial photographer Matthew Rolston had built a career on entertainment portraiture, advertising, and music videos until 2009, the year in which he started venturing off his usual gigs.
“My professional work is subject to tremendous agendas; everything I do is mediated by a group of people, even the creative work is usually mentioned in a contract.
His next project became something more fun, with a bit more creative freedom, and a lack of human subjects. Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, a 224-page book, features more than 50 portraits of Ventriloquist dummies from then Vent Haven Museum. Rolston uses his commercial skills, a rather formal photographic approach, to create human-like portraits of these creepy yet endearing dolls. The photographer re-appropriates techniques from his past in order to create a “personal response to the emanations of humanity that come from these terribly evocative inanimate objects.”
“By employing the same techniques and emotional approach I would apply to a human subject, I believe I was able to portray these figures in much the same way. … For me these figures have a yearning quality. They speak through their eyes, since their voices—voices of their ventriloquists—are now long silent. I found them to be endearing, hilarious, tragic, even disturbing—sometimes all at once.”