Prue StentUntitled from Four (2015)

I’m enormously fond of Stent’s work; although–I have to admit–the image above surprises me.

I think of Stent as working exclusively in color. Almost by definition, fine art photographers tend to work in B&W or color, rarely both.

Perhaps that’s not an entirely fair characterization: most fine art photographers make a name for themselves as a color photographer (i.e. William Eggleston) or B&W (i.e. Mark Steinmetz). [If Eggleston has worked in B&W, I haven’t seen any of it. Steinmetz does have color work but I tend to agree with him that it’s nowhere near as accomplished as his B&W work. The only photographer I can think of who I’d be hard pressed to pick just B&W or just color from their oeuvre is Jeff Wall–and I might end up picking the B&W with him, actually.]

That’s why Stent working in B&W surprises me: one would expect the results to be more of a curiosity; whereas her B&W tends to be audacious in it’s formal innovation as well as incisive in scope and execution.

What’s even more impressive is that–unless I’m mistaken–Stent is working with digital exclusively. I took the above image and parsed it according to Ansel Adams’ Zone System (much as I did with this image by Davide Rossi).

The way she’s using light and shadow to create depth and dimension is straight out of classical oil painting. (For example: I’ve only been a photographer for eleven years now. It’s just within the last year that I’ve begun to understand the interplay between light, shadows and depth of field used in combination to create the illusion of dimensionality in otherwise 2D representational spaces. In other words: Prue Stent is actually a good bit more brilliant than I initially assumed.)

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