Lisa Saad and "The Anonymous Man"
Lisa Saad presenting to Williamstown Camera Club © James Troi
Last night we were fortunate to have photographer Lisa Saad come along and present to our club. A full-house sat enthralled by Lisa's work and story.
Lisa Saad is a multi-award winning photographer, with the highest distinctions from industry associations such as the AIPP and WPPI. Picking up a camera at a tip at the age of 6, Lisa started down a road that saw her becoming an accomplished and well-known industry photographer at the age of 19. Her interest in architecture, design and film making give Lisa a grounding in the elements of design.
Focusing mainly on her series " The Anonymous Man" for her talk to our club, Lisa spoke of its inception, the process she takes with each image, and the meaning each one has to her personally. A series with its roots in the study of depression, "The Anonymous Man" is a gorgeous body of work that in my opinion will live beyond us all.
Talking us through her process Lisa told us how many of her images are found in dreams. She sees a building, scene, a colour, and sometimes just a tonal colouring, and is inspired to create. Heavily founded in architecture "The Anonymous Man" images are sometimes a single image with a few details added for effect, other times they are a massive conglomeration of images brought together to create a scene; a building from Hong Kong, married with a bridge from Melbourne, another building from Chicago, backed with the skylines of Brisbane and Sydney, as a paraphrased example. Lisa mentioned that sometimes the buildings are those she knows just from a glimpse and she'll then be rewarded by someone mentioning it again, or seeing it after dreaming it and setting about planning how she'll get there to capture an image of it to make her final scene.
Lisa Saad plays with perspective, manipulating the image to encourage the viewer to remain within the image. Lisa also changes her images to mix the perspective, as an example, she will take a photo of Bolte Bridge in Melbourne with a wide angle lens, she will remove the support pylons which in the wide-angle shot are slanted and distorted, Lisa will correct these to be straight and vertical and place them back into the image. Not only do they then form a frame for the image, they also mess with the viewer by showing part of the bridge in a "wide", while the pylons now say "close up".
With images that are often distorted, some seemingly other worldly, Lisa ensures the viewer isn't forced to tilt their head to view it by ensuring there are horizontal and vehicle straight lines in the image for the viewers' eyes to rest on.
I was quite surprised to find that Lisa captures her images for each piece, never going back to her catalogue of images to find a tree or lamp post, rather she'll go out and shoot a new one for this piece of work. And while having a painterly feel, all of her imagery is the result of individual photographs, nothing is created from nothing, every piece in the completed work is a photo Lisa has taken.
One of the video presentations Lisa shared with us was a time lapse of an image in her series being created. Members were amazed as layer upon layer was created, Lisa switching from photoshop to her file system to find an image from her curated collection to add as another layer to the work. Dodge and burn layers, gradients; the screen seemed to dance as the scene came to life. When finished a member asked what is the most number of layers you've had in a single image, and there was an audible gasp when Lisa replied "Around 1,700"! It was also amazing to some of us when Lisa mentioned that one of her images that looked relatively simple was one of the ones with the most layers.
I think most of our members came away inspired, but also daunted by the idea of creating a piece anything like those Lisa showed. Her talent is phenomenal and the raw emotion behind her personal project is a delight to behold.
Lisa has a book on the press right now about "The Anonymous Man" series, it will hit the shelves in the coming months.
To find out more about Lisa Saad visit her website: lisasaad.com.