Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Grainy, gothic and a little horror film-esque, the somber photography of Mar Richardson is an eerie pleasure for the eyes. With each piece teetering on the edge of ghostly and alluring, Richardson balances a tone both elegant and haunting.
For Richardson, it all comes down to mood and lighting. “Without darkness, light can’t become that focal point within an image,” Richardson told InSpades. In each of her pieces, light shines through the darkness, an influential sliver to pierce the shadows of outlined trees and feminine silhouettes.
Working mostly in black and white with the occasional piece infected with dusty hues or invaded with glowing colour, Richardson’s style is “ethereal and mystical” with a wash of grit. Though she enjoys shooting, her main attraction to photography is the editing process through which she can manipulate contrasting light and atmosphere with aging effects. “I work with textures and tones...Honestly I’m a painter, not so much a photographer,” Richardson admitted.
Much of Richardson’s work features forests and the looming outlines of trees. “I just want to escape into the woods...My true inspiration is the shapes and textures of the forest,” Richardson admitted. Her piece
“Shadows in the woods” brings to mind The Secret Garden. As if the photographer were privy to a lush stash of greenery inaccessible to the outside world, the image features a pocket of forest so overgrown that the trunks of each tree are supple with leaves. True to her style, Richardson’s editing reduces the saturation of the forest’s vibrant green, enhancing the shadows to draw the eye to a soft light that filters through the scene. Like an aged, naturalistic landscape photo, the image offers a hint of vintage style.
Again, Richardson captures a natural moment in her signature style of contrasting light. In “The Lonely Soul”, a lone wolf drinks from a stream in a dark forest of blue, spires of branches break from the shadows, while subtle streams of light illuminate a frosty mist. The water glints under the light of an assumed yet unseen moon, making ripples visible. An undercurrent of tension stirs this tranquil moment, as the viewer observes the vulnerability of a predatory animal in a chilling atmosphere. In this image Richardson offers undisturbed companionship between viewer and wolf, allowing the viewer to absorb and experience the scene in the presence of an animal often unseen.
While Richardson claims the forest as her main muse, “Alone in the noise”, captures a symmetrical portrait of daughter and model Kat against a bare background. “In essence, I’m a landscape artist,” Richardson shared, “but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to play with people as landscapes, or subjects within a space.”
Another source of inspiration for Richardson is her work place, where creative minds and artists surround her. “Human story lines are interesting to me.” Since her daughter is an experienced model, using Kat as a subject means Richardson can easily “concentrate on the whole framework, rather than worry about the model within the space.”
Richardson now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, working in the Arts District by day and editing her photography on the side.