The young woman in the picture Mobile by Ted Partin looks fixedly at the observer. We see her depicted in three-quarters portrait style, dressed in a light summer top, sitting in the back seat of a car with her arm laid over the backrest.
The effect of this black-and-white photograph is created by the way the look in the eyes of the model being photographed, the camera's eye/the photographer and the viewer all relate to each other. We are close to the woman, and then again we are not close to her. We are seeing only a section of an interior, within which we, the viewers, are clearly located also. The backrest, which allows us to see only the woman's upper body, holds us at a distance. The woman's gaze also draws us and simultaneously creates a sense of distancing. The way she is gently chewing her lip, and a fringe of hair covering her left eye, give her gaze a considering, thoughtful character. Clearly, she is lost in her own thoughts. This makes the observer both a confidante and a voyeur.
This distinctive atmosphere somewhere between closeness and distance, familiarity and foreignness in his photographs is what makes Ted Partin's work so distinctive.
The starting-point for this strange atmosphere in the photographs is in the traditional approach that Ted Partin uses, diametrically opposed to the rapidity of today's digital image transfer: Partin works with a 8 x 10 inch Deardorff camera, a plate camera whose technology is reminiscent of 19th century technical processes. Setting up this camera and preparing it for an exposure takes a considerable amount of time. During this phase the photographer, the camera and the subject, the human being, adjust themselves to each other, each becoming aware of the other's perception. The elaborate photographic process also triggers self-observation in the subject, and this also becomes part of the picture. So in Ted Partin's photographs people always present themselves in a kind of natural pose, an attitude in which a private and a public, an intimate and a distanced element are mixed.
Ted Partin, born in 1977, lives in Brooklyn, New York and has studied under the famous “street photographer” Tod Papageorge, and under Gregory Crewdson. 40 copies of the Mobile edition are being published to mark the opening of the TED PARTIN. EYES LOOK THROUGH YOU exhibition, which will be showing from 13 June to 19 September in the Museum Haus Esters.