It is difficult enough to create an inimitable signature as a creative.
It is masterful to be able to maintain that signature while shooting commercial, as well as artistic photography.
Dutch artist Edel Verzijl has been balancing that act since the late 1990s when she diverted her career from painting to photography, translating the classic sfumato style while shooting film exclusively. Her new book Amygdalae, provides the unique luxury of intimate access to her artistic and female persona, equally.
"I show my photography within a stream of poetry, like in a dream, where the moods flow from one picture to another. It's a survey of ten years, with most of the images being recent, while the older ones also blend in with the newer ones. I usually have the image in front of my eye that I than try to realize through my photography. So I am really trying to visualize the picture behind the picture."
Striking her way in which she portrays (young) women. Fragile beings, their faces and bodies surfaces for dreams and fantasies, at all times allowing vulnerability, seemingly providing a closer look at Verzijl's eternal, inner girl. Her description of youth is not necessarily perky-optimistic. There is room for melancholy. There is time for having a bad day while finding and developing the inner self. Sadness and the beauty within are allowed, becoming powerful details of her overall aesthetics.
"I think I have a closer relationship with women because I like to evoke the spirit of female beauty - and not in the way a man looks at a woman. Fashion photography, for example, has been in the hands of male photographers for the longest time. That started to change about ten years ago. Male photographers objectify women more, for me women are spiritual beings. That's the feel I try to evoke when I shoot women. I try to figure out what is their being or their soul, which is actually not that difficult. Intuitively I search for that and I try to establish a nice relationship. They trust me and I try to put them at ease."
Verzijl creates an elegant synergy of the commercial and artistic face, creating fluent segues. Her dreamy sequences and snapshots seem to portray an understated sex appeal that communicates strength without the common stimuli. She manages to tempt her audience by withholding a smile, a provoking gesture, even an entire face at times, making her art work unpredictable, experimental and fresh.
A very classic painting style, the sfumato effect serves her photographing technique artistically and commercially. Defined by Italian painter Leonardo Da Vinci, British art historian Ernst Gombrich describes it as follows. "...This is Leonardo's famous invention ... the blurred outline and mellowed colors that allow one form to merge with another and always leave something to our imagination." Verzijl creates a dream like atmosphere. "Sometimes there is a halo around a model," she explains. Classic film lights support her effort, sometimes daylight and ever-so-often a combination of the two. "I am more or less creating a movie scene, but then I am really shooting a frozen image."
Verzijl lets childhood memories, dreams, intuition and artwork influence her shoots, and feels that she is one of a few photographers worldwide, using and implementing her technique that defines so beautifully the line between a set of different realities.