American artist Patrick Stull has spent the last eighteen years mostly creating imagery about the lives of women. He searches for what lies beneath the surface of his subjects, empowering each one he encounters. He has recently ventured into the realm of surrealism, creating powerful imagery that reflects on our humanity while dealing with the meaning and power of art.
His latest book is the fine art photography book, Encounters.
Visit his website at www.patrickstull.com.
With photography at its base, Stull offers a nuanced explication of his encounters to allow the viewer an opportunity to form a relationship with his art. While looking within ourselves, exploring our own feelings, he hopes that he will inspire greater humaneness in response to his art.
ENCOUNTERS is the second in a series of six large-format books in which artist, photographer and author, Patrick Stull explores a wide range of experiences. Using light and the physical body, the written word and his artistry he creates imagery that examines aspects of the lives of women.
Compiled over the last 18 years, the images in ENCOUNTERS, Stull says, are meant to “inspire and challenge the observer while always empowering the subject.”
Stull brings a powerful sense of the surreal and the spiritual to his work as he plots a course along the many paths of the human experience. His imagery runs from the ghostly and ephemeral to the flowing and fiery.
As much as he concentrates on the human form, Stull never forgets to focus on the humanity of his subjects. His choice of the coffee-table style book format draws the viewer into an experience both intimate and universal.
Stull’s first book in his series, titled EVOLVE, was published in 2006. A third book, titled HIDDEN DIMENSIONS, is completed and awaiting publication. Future titles in the series include DHARMA, BEING DIFFERENT, and YOGA, A HEALING MOMENT.
Stull hopes that his readers come away from the book with “a love for art and a respect for the female who gives us life and challenges us to be better human beings.
Women seem to play an important role in your photography. What is it about women that makes your photography portraying them so unique?
Patrick: Women allow me into their lives in the most intimate, artistic ways. Then I use light, the camera and other elements to present their bodies and talents, while sharing their stories.
I haphazardly fell into photographing women, working with them and explicating their lives and bodies with the camera. Photographers dedicate their lives to many different areas of interest. I have spent almost two decades working with women, in all stages of life and in many circumstances. Women are the most amazing and fascinating subjects. They inspire me to continue my work. If they trust you, they allow you to enter their worlds of fashion, their moments of creating new life, their pain of being raped, the challenges of being a female dancer or performer and the misogyny to which they are subjected.
Of all your photography, what would you say is your very favorite?
Patrick: This is a challenging question. It’s like asking me to choose between my children.
My portrait work is the most exciting thing for me to create. A portrait is more intimate than photographing any other part of the body. Portraits allow me the privilege to peer into a woman’s soul. She exposes herself in a way that’s most intense. The face, the eyes, skin and hair tell all. If I had to choose the one image that has penetrated my artistic being, it would be the family portrait of three females, together. The image is a side perspective of mother, daughter and granddaughter.
The power of the image is that of presenting the passage of time, allowing one to connect to the process of life. The viewer journeys from youth to the aging matriarch. Everyone that views the image has different reactions. Some see it as confrontational, others love its power as I do. No matter what, the image penetrates my being and has a disruptive humanistic message that connects me to women, my nature and my ultimate purpose, that of discovery.
And what a stunning cover. Why did you choose this particular photo?
Patrick: The cover of a book is one of the most difficult things to decide upon. I think I had at least ten of them during the process. I wanted something that was mysterious like a woman’s personality.
Have you always had an eye for beauty through the lens of a camera?
Patrick: I think I was born with an interest in visual composition. My relationship to the camera began in my late teens. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated and intrigued by its magic and power. Needless to say, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That said, my focus is to present something captivating and it is up to the audience to determine “beauty”.
What message are you trying to convey with your photography that you hope people will ‘get’?
Patrick: I would like the viewers to reflect on their humanity, the power of art and a woman’s uniqueness. Photography stops time, unveils our natures and most of all offers a voyeuristic relationship to the world. Encounters, as with any art, is about the viewer. It is what they bring to the viewing experience as their eye’s transverse the images. The reality and power of the images, hinge on how emotionally they impact the viewer’s psyche. My wish is that the viewer acquires a deeper appreciation and respect for their own humanity, their bodies and this amazing creature we call female.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?
I created Encounters to share my love of photography, the written word and the female form. The book is a labor of love – a letter to all from which I hope to inspire motivation toward a greater sense of our humanity – in thought and in our daily actions toward one and other. With the greatest respect, please enjoy.