I was lucky enough to stumble across a show on the Ovation Channel the other night about a young, amazingly talented photographer who was capturing the images of the tribes-people of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. Faces of a Vanishing World follows Joey Lawrence (not the actor) as he returns to Ethiopia to present his photographs to the people he believes they truly belong to, the subjects.
I recently shared an amazing series of paintings by Lee Price. What fascinated me about the paintings, other than the subject matter, was how much they looked like photographs. Price’s paintings fall into the genre of painting called hyperrealism. Hyperrealist painters and sculptors aim to make their work resemble high-resolution photography.
What Joey Lawrence does is similar. He is one of the pioneers of new aged digital hyper-realistic photography, lighting and manipulation. To start with, he is an amazing photographer, but he uses modern technology— photo-editing and the like— to give his images an amazingly captivating quality. The images seem almost more real than reality. His eye for form and color saturation is uncanny.
The pictures featured below are from several of Joey’s projects. The first several are from a collection called Holy Men, including photos of Ethiopian Orthodox Christian priests and Hindu sadhus and aghoris. The next are from the collection called Abyssinia, which are the ones from Ethiopia, and features several shots from Joey’s trip back (shown in Faces of a Vanishing World). The last ones are from the collection called The Mentawai, a tribe from Indonesia.
His work is spectacularly impressive. Especially when you realize that he was about 19 years old when he shot these images and has had no training in photography. Now almost 21, Lawrence is becoming world-renowned for his work. (You may know him as the kid who shot the promotional photos for Twilight: The Movie.) His photographs are undoubtedly breathtaking, but it is Lawrence’s dedication to capturing the images of vanishing cultures and, most importantly, to using those images to make a difference to tribal people through Survival International, that really makes him a young man to admire.
For more information on Joey L and to see more of his photos, visit his website.
To see another photographer who’s embracing hyper-realism, see Dave Hill’s website.