Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer born in Tokyo in 1948. Upon graduating from Saint Paul’s University in Tokyo with a degree in Sociology and Politics and moved to Los Angeles in 1970 and attended the Art Centre College of Design. He moved to New York in 1974 after receiving his Bachelors degree and now lives in Tokyo and in New York. He divides his work into photographic series, each representing a certain theme. He is most famous for his seascapes, movie theaters, natural history dioramas and portraits, and waxworks series. He explores the idea of photography and time, and uses photography as a way to record science and history alongside the idea of indescribable human nature. His aim when creating portraits is to make them as lifelike as possible so the viewer reconsiders what it is to be alive.
Julian Opie is a contemporary English artist born in London in 1958. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1982 and now lives and works in London. His work consists on using computer software to reduce complex photographs or short films and turn them into figurative and basic cartoon art. He is known for his Imagine You Are series (where he demonstrates how daily activities can be represented by simple reductions) and for his depiction of cartoon-esque pole dancers, and for his minimalistic portraits, which sometimes turn into series where he draws the same person repeatedly adding new details (sunglasses, necklaces…). He finds it easier to draw women than men and when making portraits he goes by trial and error.
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s portrait representations of Henry VII and his wives are photographs of wax figures and are part of his series “Portraits”. Although he wasn’t photographing real models, he managed to portray the complexity of wax figures in his work. Sugimoto strategically placed lighting, the way a Renaissance artist would have, to create extremely vivid portraits that look almost like paintings. He also made them look more like painting by isolating them and having a clear background. The use of shadows and light brings out very small details in the pictures. For example, the jewelry on all of the women remains clear and detailed. The positioning of the figures really shows the texture and patterns in their clothing and allows you to see distinct facial expressions and prominent details in the hands (nails, knuckles, rings…). Even though the overall idea of his series is the same, through the positioning of the figures he conveys emotion and movement, every woman has her own personality and through the detail of his work you can see that they are each engaged in a small activity. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work is similar to Lewis Hine’s work in the sense that they are both photographer that aim to capture history through their work. Hine’s picture of 7-year-old Ferris reminded me of the portraits of the woman because he is also holding something in his hand, and his face is also quite serious.