All photos by Polina Karpova. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Stuck in a rut with your portrait photography and conceptual projects? You might want to take a page from a photo + moving picture series by Ukrainian photographer and costume designer Polina Karpova. In this collection of conceptual portraits, she gives us some bright ideas and style concepts on using colors, props, and setting to tell a visual story. According to Karpova, this series titled Heart of the Darkness was made during a November 2017 residency, “Sorry, we have no rooms available,” with curator Petro Ryaska in November 2017. The location, Zakarpattya Hotel in the city of Uzhhorod in Ukraine, proved to be a source of visual inspiration for this project.
“In my creative practice, I usually turn to the personification of the aesthetic qualities of a particular location in the appearance of the model, as well as build a special staging solution and pick up a color palette that allows me to harmonize the character and architectural context.
“In this case, I turned to the aesthetics of the flashy LED signboards of the game rooms of the hotel Zakarpattya. In my series, the model is a living hotel ghost. He wanders through the corridors and rooms and is looking for especially desperate guests who want to ‘easy’ escape from reality. When in reality you are incredibly close to Europe.”
The result is a collection of experimental, conceptual portraits that play on the elements and mood of the setting on top of everything else. The highlight of this project is undoubtedly Karpova’s use of GIFs or moving pictures to put the focus on the flashing lights that sparked the concept for this series.
While there’s certainly room for improvement in the execution of this series, it’s still an excellent example of how we can work with a location or setting for some ideas and concepts for a shoot. So if you’re feeling stuck in your project, try looking around your area for some interesting spots that you can use as inspiration for your next visual story!