User Spotlight: Ottilie Short
One of the primary tensions in place photography is that of naturalism and contrivance. Nature and wildlife photographies typically privilege the non-human, and almost always eschew any version of staging. But there is, as in all art, gray area that challenges the genre’s parameters. On the negative side, there’s the growing use of completely manufactured wildlife “encounters;” and, on the positive side, there’s work like Ottilie Short's.
No, Short’s images aren’t doctored or staged. Rather, the trace of contrivance exists mostly in Short’s masterful, almost uncanny control of light. Even her most seemingly off-the-cuff shots (like this shot of Svalbard’s arctic expanse) are perfectly composed and exposed. It’s that almost-too-perfect vibe that makes Short’s work so continually surprising and staggering, work that’s so visually natural and authentic that it borders upon hyperreality.
Short’s hyperreality is enhanced by her attention to geometry, too. Part of the aforementioned compositional perfection is a knack for framing enormous spaces with a clear sense of visual calculation, of lines, edges, and bodies all tying together from the perfect perspective. In that sense, then, Short’s naturalism is also synthetic, effectively combining and re-presenting a field’s entire contents, whether animal, geological, or human.