Fresco Photography is a unique photographic interpretation of traditional fresco painting pioneered by Diane Epstein. This innovative approach to fine art photography blends distinctive views of monuments, statues, cityscapes and natural scenes with multiple exposures of crumbling elements to create a fresco-like image. Fresco Photography captures the splendor of architecture and nature, as well as the imperfections that come from the passage of time.
Italy-based photographer, Diane Epstein, speaks about her fine art images:
“Fresco Photography takes us on a quest towards a new way of seeing and experiencing our environment. It transcends the boundaries of time, while simultaneously illuminating the wonder of the present and the visceral remnants of the past. A wide spectrum of moods can be created – be it tranquil, romantic, or whimsical – guiding us to a place we want to be, somewhere between what is real and what is formed in the imagination.”
Interview with Fresco Photography Pioneer, Diane Epstein
What is Fresco Photography?
Fresco Photography is an innovative approach to fine art photography that involves superimposing images of fragments of faded walls and textural remnants onto scenes of ancient arches, columns, sculptures, still life, and fruits and vegetables, as well as cityscapes and panoramic vistas to create a fresco-like image. The ultimate result captures the splendor and balance of architectural and natural formations, as well as their imperfections that come from the evolution and unfolding of time.
How would you describe the process of creating your Fresco Photography?
The fresco effect is created by overlaying multiple exposures in varying degrees of translucency, keeping intact the integrity of the original photograph. I aim to convey a certain mystique – to capture the genuine, underlying, visceral traces of what I see – rather than holding on to the literalness of an untouched photograph.
What are the central themes in your work?
Themes in my work include illumination, the enchanting beauty of nature and architecture, as well as the residual and aesthetic effects of transformation through time. You can see these themes in almost all of my explorations of hidden gardens, ancient stone and trees, statues, angels, arches, cupolas, monuments, and across bridges and avenues that I encounter in my meanderings.
How do you determine the shades and textures and incorporate them into your photographic process?
These stratefied elements in my Fresco Photography come to me through my wanderings around old world cities, from Rome to San Miguel de Allende, as well as unchartered villages and environments. I am very drawn to the palette I find behind the scenes in the piazza, the marketplace, the palazzo, and the courtyard – which often guides my color and composition choices.
If I am photographing the Pantheon during the summer solstice or the brilliant lines and pattern on the Spanish Steps, I may superimpose the texture of the worn down remnant, or the intricate cracks I find nearby in shades of ochre or burnt sienna to reflect the intensity of light and warmth I feel when I look at a scene.
If I am shooting a light beam inside a Renaissance Church, the mythical shape of Sicilian trees at dawn, or the Statue of Liberty in the fog, I may be inspired to convey a more ethereal, reflective aura, and choose fragments of faded blues, misty greens or neutral shades.
Rather than take a photograph of the actual fresco paintings, I take a photo of peeling walls and other weathered elements and superimpose them on a photograph that I choose as the focal point for a particular piece of work. This creates the fresco-like feel to my photographs – where the passage of time becomes an integral part of an image of the present.
Where did the term Fresco Photography come from?
I took inspiration for the term from the ancient art of frescoes, or affreschi in Italian. This method of art uses a technique of mural painting using freshly laid plaster where the painting becomes an integral part of the wall.
Tell us about your recent travels to Mexico, Southeast Asia and Europe ?
My most recent travels this fall to Mexico, primarily to San Miguel de Allende, and Veracruz, where I went on a bird watching voyage, is so fresh in my mind that I will for now forgo the words and just share with you some of the works in progress. Fresco Photographs from Mexico
After my photographic travels to Southeast Asia and often to Europe, mostly in Paris, Rome and the Italian countryside, I began my “golden phase” and have put together a collection entitled: DESIRE & BEYOND: Facing Phantoms, Angels, Buddha and our Psyche. This photographic exploration reflects my own vision of how divergent cultures and individuals deal with the issue of desire — whether it be the yearning to unite with the divine, the seduction/relinquishment of desire, or confronting our demons/easing our mind — a path towards transcendence, whether facing Buddha, God, Goddess, Nature or our own psyches. Intertwining multiple exposures of statues, architecture, natural scenes, Buddha and the human figure, I was captivated by the splendor of the sacred gaze and place, the beauty of decay, and always the spirit and richness of the journey.
What do you hope to bring to light and convey with your Fresco Photography?
I aim to capture the age-old patina of a fresco, yet convey a contemporary, visually poetic image. Working with many still-life formations, sculptures and the human figure, I like to experiment with illumination and give contour and substance to emotions and experiences we cherish – love, desire, experiencing nature, nourishment, cultural exploration, solitude and connection.
I take a closer look at the story behind everything I capture, from a feminine figure in flight to an immense, surreal Buddha sitting in a field, revealing a tranquil point in a revolving world. I endeavor to capture those intimate places and spaces where time stands still in a way that allows the observer to feel a sense of abandonment, to breath in the fragrance of an unfamiliar place, and experience a luminous moment.
Which artists have influenced your photographic predilections?
Impressionism as a movement had a profound effect on me. Renoir, in particular, whose figures emanated such vulnerability and strength has been a great influence. His sensual, almost spiritual interpretations of scenes, and the subtle layers of light he used have made a genuine impression on my artistic endeavors. Turner’s watercolor, “Modern Rome, Campo Vacino”, with its iridescent glow made me see Rome and the Roman Forum with new eyes. The Pictorialism photographers, particularly Steichen, the “Flatiron Building” and its chromatic study of architecture at twilight, as well as the circle of the movement he began, gave me great insight into the artistic potential of the photographic medium.
What are the challenges you deal with when it comes to being a photographic artist?
As a photographer I want to capture the physical splendor and the atmospheric impressions that move me. As an artist I want to create an aura of tranquility yet still find an edge, a depth in my creations.
My primary challenge is to be provocative – to give the viewer something to question, something to ponder – while also bringing out the beauty in decay, the residual effects of time and change, and to embrace the fragility we often deny in the world around us, especially when it comes to aging.
Where do you exhibit your Fresco Photography?
I exhibit my fresco photography internationally in galleries, museums, hotels, restaurants, as well as private and public collections in Italy, Asia and in the U.S., including New York, Boston and Washington, DC. I have participated in exhibitions in Rome at the American Academy, the American Embassy, the Belgian Ambassador’s Residence and the Paolo Antonacci Gallery.
If people are interested in learning more or acquiring Diane Epstein Photography, how should they contact you?
You can contact me via email: PR@EpsteinPhotography.com or visit my website: www.DianeEpsteinPhotography.com Additionally, by appointment, we can speak by phone in the U.S: 415.916.2003