Environmental Portraits for Velocity Magazine

Today I received the most recent issue of Velocity magazine, the semi-annual publication from the Maryland Institute College of Arts that highlights the latest ideas on campus and about the students, faculty, staff and alumnus. The feature story of this edition focuses on five Chicago-based alumni who have have excelled in their perspective industries and I was proud to be invited to collaborate with MICA in producing the accompanying environmental portraits for their stories.

For our first set of portraits, we headed over to meet Rebecca George, the founder of the Art House Gallery. She’s a painter with exhibition space and a studio practice whose works are in collections around the world. Alex Fuller is the Senior VP of Design at Leo Burnett and is also the co-founder of the Post Family, a creative firm whose members are designers, artists, technologists, teachers, and entrepreneurs. Kelly Leigh Miller is an illustrator whose debut children’s book, I am a Wolfis being published by Penguin.

Below are Rebecca George ’93 (General Fine Arts BFA), Alex Fuller ’03 (Graphic Design BFA), Kelly Leigh Miller (11 ’14 Illustration B.F.A., Business of Art & Design M.P.S.)

I’m often asked what kind of projects I like to work on most and editorial assignments, specifically portraits, always rank up pretty high. Typically, with these kind of projects, I’m given a photo brief with specific needs such as dimensions, number of images needed and the licensing required. When it comes to style, composition and demeanor, this can be flexible and I prefer to meet my subjects where they’re at and let them determine what they want to show and express.

The purpose of environmental portraits is to use the places where the subjects work, play and live to tell a part of their story. Photographing portraits of artists in their element leaves plenty of room for playing with light, color, expression and in the case of Aram below…props, lots of props. With the images for Velocity, we did some staging to frame the subject within their work, and used additional lighting to intensify the colors and contrasts within the spaces.

Above  are Sergio Salgado ’07 (Digital Arts MA), Madeline Murphy Rabb ’66 (General Fine Arts BFA) and Aram Han Sifuentes ’11 ( Fine Arts Post-Bacc)

Sergio Salgado is the founder of Furnace FPS as well as the lead director and cinematographer. His firm specializes in visual storytelling through commercial films and branded content. Madeleine Murphy Rabb is renowned for her expertise in identifying and showcasing artwork created by established, mid-career, and emerging African-American artists including photojournalist Gordon Parks. Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber, social practice, and performance artist who works to claim spaces for marginalized communities.

This was a fantastic project to be invited to work on. One that offered so much creative freedom to produce environmental portraits that helped to tell the story behind several accomplished artists. Looking forward to the next round!