We got a tip a few weeks ago from a reader sharing the work of Angeleno photographer Shaina Kasanoff with the note that her Wither And Return series uses lighting in the style of Carvaggio. We thought, sure, that could be possible and perused her photos to find we didn’t quite see it. Her work is darkly golden and beautiful–but that connection: is it there? After a little Google Image referencing and a brief study of the Carvaggio light, you do in fact see that Kasanoff is able to capture this painterly style in look and light from a young, playful point of view.
Her work in the series (and in general) is about people, typically a singular person, in what appears to be moody dark yellow or cool blue tones. It is very easy to go, “Oh, cool, that photo of the guy jumping off a cliff but looks like he’s sitting in a chair is rad.” or “Yeah, totally digging that sleeping bag couple photo, yeah.” But look deeper than that: the photo directly above, the one of the young man and the cat lounging, gave us the a-ha that, yes, Kasanoff grabs ideal and classic lighting and places it atop of the body.
We haven’t seen Carvaggio’s LACMA show but works like the above photo cross-referenced with his work shows that it is possible to apply a classic artist’s technique in a different era and different medium in an effortless (and at points fun) way. If Carvaggio was making art now, what would he make? We’re unsure but we know he and Shaina Kasanoff would definitely exchange lighting tips.