Michael Winters’ ghosts, nature witches, and dolls on digital are cooler than the maiden-heroes and villains in your fantasies.
It’s not that Michael Winters found photography but more rather, that it found him. It all began 10 years ago with a trip to Budapest and a point and shoot camera. Prior to this landmark event in an “addiction”-to-fester, Winters had never owned a camera. After much experimentation and an ever-challenging relationship with light, Winters settled on portraiture. And so would commence the birth of a creepy, ethereal, and down-right elvish assemblage of images from this Portsmouth, NH based photographer.
“As long as I can remember I have had a love affair with cinema, especially the silent era through the 1950’s. The lighting, sets and costuming have always mesmerized me. I particularly like the Films Noir of the late 30’s through the early 50’s and I’m partial to black and white versus color.” An influence of the practical effects of 20th-century film is unmistakeable in Winter’s work. Portraits of heavily costumed and made-up women from a past era that hasn’t happened yet create a distinctly cinematic vibe. His subjects are ghostly and incredibly alive – of a different realm but also very present. Just like the people in films, his subjects are carefully placed on display in a shadowbox. Every frame seems to have an interesting and possibly sinister backstory involving a coy woman with a closet full of secrets.
Winters photography is heavily collaborative. Makeup artists, hair-dressers, and a flower crown craftsman are central to the other-worldly and refined look of many of his portraits. A trove of very creative friends makes for a portfolio of photographs that you just can’t stop exploring. One three-part project, “Flower Crown Series” is particularly rich with contributors. “That shoot was the brain child of MUAs Laurie Hoey and Erik Wochholz who is the historical horticulturist at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH. Erik wanted to make flower crowns using the flowers and plants that come from the various gardens he curates on the grounds of the museum. He spent a lot of time coming up with plant and flower combinations, dried them and created some really amazing works of art.” The nymphs of the three series project look as if they have risen from a particularly beautiful sect of Norse mythology mixed with an elvish culture you’d expect to find holed up deep in an Icelandic forest.
As for his next project… “I have a dozen 36 inch round white balloons waiting to be filled with helium. That’s all I’ll say about that!” Picturing it, I’m intrigued.
Michael Winters’ photography book “Friends and Muses” is available on his website.