1.6: Light and Shadow – Trent Parke

Trente Parke

I really like the work of this photographer – I had not heard of him before this and will certainly follow him up.

Minutes to Midnight – plague of flying foxes by Trent Parke

The photo of the flying foxes, looking like strange little goblin angels is incredible. I think he must have overexposed it to get such contrast between the animal’s body and wings and make the wings so transparent. The contrast between light and dark makes the image haunting, scary and confusing. It is utterly compelling.

Minutes to Midnight: Five-year-old Jack watches The Simpsons

The other photo that stayed with me is of a little boy watching TV inside a caravan. Somehow there are shadows of leaves and foliage projected all over the inside of the caravan, and the TV screen is a glowing centre of light in the image. As with many of his photos, it is confusing, a little frightening and conveys a sense of isolation and danger, whilst also being hauntingly beautiful.

Themes that emerge after looking at lots of his photos:

  • Use of under and overexposure to create drama, and draw the eye to very bright/dark areas of the photo
  • Use of shadow/highlight to simplify an image and remove distractions
  • Strong shapes, outlines and silhouettes created by both shadows and light
  • Movement captured – a moment of dramatic light frozen
  • Photos need a second or third look to see what is really happening
  • Some photos seem ‘impossible’ – how did he see that moment
  • People in silhouette or bleached out give a sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Strong narrative elements give the photos a dramatic, story-like quality
  • The photos evoke emotions – nostalgia, loneliness, fear, wonder
  • Often taken from unusual viewpoints, above, below etc
  • Strong compositional lines leading into areas of deep contrast/bright light etc
  • Often a very ‘human’ element to the photos



2 thoughts on “1.6: Light and Shadow – Trent Parke”

  1. Thank you for sharing this review. I so agree about finding the right perfect moment. Time and patience is the key I believe.

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