Today on the blog, we meet with an incredible artist who uses image manipulation techniques to create unique, dark, and whimsical fantasy: Mati Gelman.
Mati, born in Hungary and raised in Israel, relocated to New York City in 2016 to pursue his photography education. His techniques enable fascinating visuals to come together through dynamic postures and dark colors.
Discover his aesthetic focusing on the connections between forces of nature and the human body, all powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you, how did you start photography?
I was born in Hungary, grew up in Israel, and relocated to New York City two and half years ago. It’s pretty funny how I found my way into photography; my father in law has a professional camera and he takes it with him to trips we take together with the family. The photos from his camera always looked better and nicer, so I decided to get one as well. I started taking pictures of my environment, my friends, and myself. Having the power to capture whatever I wanted triggered something within me.
You have a scientific background, how does it help you with your photographs and has helped you shape your work?
I was finishing my thesis in Chemistry when I first picked up a camera. I’m a rather curious individual and that’s what drew me to science. I specified in Organic Chemistry and enjoyed the fact I had control over matter, quiet literally. I am able to form a compound and observe its structure, consistency, shape, smell, color, and texture. Once I discovered I can do the same thing with digital imagery using Photoshop, I was hooked. My raw materials are my off-camera photos, and my lab is Photoshop, equipped with endless tools for me to experiment with. I have to remind myself that there aren’t really rules when it comes to image manipulation, I can let my imagination run free, and oh boy, I have lots of it.
You excel at surreal photography, what do you like best about this genre? Are there other styles you would like to photograph and explore more?
I like to think of myself as a student; I still have a lot to learn and explore. I am extremely drawn to surreal work, particularly that of Salvador Dali. I think the common space between photography and painting is imagery, and that’s where I see myself fit it. “Surreal” as a concept fits me perfectly because it enables me to express a feeling or an internal state using “external” elements/props which are based in reality. Moreover, coming from a scientific background, I love how we as people prescribe a "meaning" to nature. "Meaning" is a human concept that helps us to feel better about this mysterious and occasionally hostile environment we are part of. As an artist, I get to play with it and it’s really fun.
Can you briefly explain your process of producing such image?
My process involves developing a concept and making sure there is a story and a “meaning” behind an image I’m creating. It’s either a feeling I have, or something I want to say. It can be as simple as drawing a mind map or writing down a short paragraph/story. But, I am often inspired by the environment i'm in and an image just forms in my mind. I let myself play and form the story as I work and photograph the space. I trust that my style will come out by using elements, postures, colors, and compositions that are consistent in my work. When it comes to the photography part, I use natural light or studio lighting; in both cases I photograph the subject and aim to get a “main shot” which will be my starting point to creating an image in post.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think a shorter answer would be answering “where don’t you find inspiration?”. It can be by listening to my favorite music, walking down the street, cooking, running, and/or having conversations. I also love looking at other artist's work and see how I connect to it. I love the work of Flora Borsi (a fellow Hungarian!), Kristy Mitchell, and Brooke Shaden.
About your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
I use Sony a7RII with the 24-70mm lens which gives me versatility. I import my photos to Lightroom for minor adjustments and then use Photoshop for the rest. I have Profoto lights I really love.
*Read On: Amazing Compositing images by the hand of photographer Elias Amari and Dark and light contrasts to create depth in fine-art portraiture, with Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk
Do you have projects for the future like workshops, personal series?
This is a great question because these are two big goals of mine. I have not created a personal series yet. I would love to create with one or more collaborators in different fields so I can push my work forward visually.
Workshops are a goal for me as well, as I spent few years teaching as a TA I absolutely loved it. I'm currently working on updating my website and launching a blog which will be fun and informative.
To see more from Mati:
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