by Steve Korn on Oct. 30, 2020
I’ve always been interested in history and culture, so I’m always looking for opportunities to express these elements in the work I create. When model Angelina Love approached me about creating some Dia de Muertos images as a means of celebrating her Mexican heritage, I was happy to oblige.
An interesting holiday, often associated with Halloween by Americans, it’s actually a Catholic celebration referred in English speaking regions as All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day. In Mexico the event has a religious and secular function and is seen as an extension of the Aztec festivals celebrating death.
I left the styling to Angelina, she created her own head piece and enlisted the help of a friend to create her makeup and jeweled accessories. I envisioned photographing Angelina on a red velvet curtain to draw some relation to the contrast of red and gold often seen in Catholic art. The remaining images feature a warm/lighter tone. My goal was to create something that is contrary to the typical tone of Dia de Muertos images, which are usually dark and dramatic.
We also took an opportunity to pay homage to the famous Edward Steichen photo of Gloria Swanson.
A great collaboration which gave me an opportunity to learn more about this cultural event, research some religious art and try to find some creative alternatives to make the images my own.
©2020 Steve Korn. All rights reserved.
She had posed this question with genuine enthusiasm, every four or five minutes since we'd met. My jazz band had just finished setting up in the store cafeteria. I wasn't excited. Performing to a sparsely filled cafeteria of unsuspecting diners who were just there for the meatballs, didn't hold the same allure as a smokey club. The environment is important. It made me realize my love of music is as dependent on the images created in my mind as the notes being played. I'm driven by visuals: colors, shapes, lines, expression, culture.
I grew up with the work of Ansel Adams and Andrew Wyeth in the house. They were as important as Miles Davis and The Beatles. As I turned further toward photography, I saw the parallels of line and color, energy, emotion, atmosphere, and a million other things that both disciplines share. Combined with a fascination for people, who they are, what they do, why they do it and how we all get along, I had found my voice. I shifted focus from being a full-time jazz drummer, music teacher and university professor to being a photographer.
Now I spend my days crafting images, working with inspiring people, trying to inspire in return, solving problems, communicating and finding common vision.
Putting something into the world that never existed before, expressing the simple beauty that is every person, the joy of a color and a line and the emotional power they communicate through shared culture and personal experience...these are the things that excite and drive me. This is my dream and I get to live it every day.