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Peeking into the surreal

Enter the fantasy worlds of several Photography and Imaging students at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

October 30, 2022

When life starts to feel mundane, finding inspiration and solace in art can be a way to spark imagination. This photo essay highlights work from four photographers in the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, each of whom was asked to contribute to the theme “surreal photography.” The photography and imaging program at Tisch focuses on the study and creation of photography and moving imagery. Its students specialize in a range of mediums and styles, from documentary to fashion and everything in between.

Photograph of a boy holding a bright green shovel standing in a garden overlooking the ocean with a floating hose wrapped around him. The boy is watering a bed of flowers. A white fence, palm trees and a blue sky are in the background.
Photograph of a boy holding a tennis racket in a blue tennis court surrounded by several floating tennis balls. There are trees and mountains in the background.
Photograph of a breakfast spread on a table with a green-and-white gingham tablecloth. On the table is a Smeg toaster with bread inside, a tower of strawberries, an iced matcha latte, a stick of butter with a floating knife, a floating tea cup, and an avocado with a boy's head as the seed. A beige fabric backdrop is behind the table.

I like to create narrative-driven images that provide an escape and a brief pause in the reality of viewers by producing clean, utopian atmospheres with surreal elements and carefully selected color palettes. My current and ongoing series, ‘Overdramatic Recreation’ showcases oblivious, manicured scenes that invite viewers into a visually dramatic, nonchalant lifestyle.”

Portrait photograph of a blurry girl in dramatic red lighting. She holds two roses in one hand and wears a reflective top.
Portrait photograph of a girl's face in dramatic lighting. She wears rainbow eye makeup, purple lipgloss and multi-colored sprinkle freckles on her cheeks.

“My photography style revolves around the use of intricate light, shadow, and color. I do this to create intimate-style portraits that can feel emotional and personal. Along with this, I have adapted a more editorial and stylized look to these photographs.”

Photograph of a girl sitting at a table eating a plate of gummy worms with a mold of her head served on top. She wears a black mesh top with a table, two lamps, a floral arrangement, and a gold framed mirror in the background.
Photograph of a girl standing in front of a wire fence at night kicking one leg up and bending her arms at the elbow. Her limbs are held up by strings from a set of hands emerging from the sky.

“I adore exploring mystical storylines while evoking horror and bloody motifs. In my work, I like to remove my own identity from my self-portrait characters; however, I also love to exhibit personal symbolism hidden within my work. Overall, my photography goal is to explore aspects of storytelling, dive into horror movie motifs, and explore characters other than my own.”

Photograph with multiple clones of a girl wearing a red top and white skirt spinning in a circle. To the right are clones of the girl in a yellow, flowery outfit. The clones are reflected onto the ground, where bright purple flowers sit.
Photograph of a boy with black angel wings standing in a dark, open field holding fire in his hands. The boy is illuminated orange by the glow of the fire.

“My photography captures the visions that spark in our head when listening to music, as I also explore the myths and legends of my culture. I utilize many techniques through lighting, set design and camera technical skills to tell my story and deliver my own visions.”

These photographers show us how surreal photography can transport us to different realities.

After experiencing these images, we encourage viewers to return to their daily routines knowing that there is more wonder to life than meets the eye.

Ryan Rogers, Ava Thornton, Caroline Solakian and Tommy Tran

Contact Ryan Rogers at [email protected]

Developed for web by Samson Tu

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