Benita Suchodrev Photographs ‘Trashy’ Blackpool in Black and White

Oct 12, 2018 by Baptiste Le guay

An authentic look

Benita Suchodrev blackpool

Photo credit Benita Suchodrev 

The photographer was born in Russia and then emigrated to the United States where she pursued her studies of art and literature until 2008.

Letting life unfold naturally with her subjects, Benita documents her interactions with the locals of this city. A movement, a facial expression or posture is captured and the moment is frozen in the image. Thanks to her intuition, the photographs are bold and intriguing. Several of her photo documentary projects (Milk & Honey, Berlin Bohemia, High Society) are exhibited in private collections in Moscow, Berlin and New York. The common thread they share with the series of photographs "48 hours Blackpool" is this high contrast black and white. Another point of comparison is their raw intensity that manages to avoid any sense of sentimentality.

Benita Suchodrev black pool girls

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

A raw aesthetic

Two elements can be observed in Sochodrev’s work. Firstly, the documentary side displaying a realistic aesthetic; her use of anonymous portraits and movement (people walking). Secondly, is the abject element seeking to simultaneously attract and disgust us. There’s an authenticity even if the subjects are sometimes distorted (their faces and bodies) because of the angles from which the photos are taken, the contrasting lighting (lit up or darkened), the emphasis of lines and the play of perspective.

Benita Suchodrev old man

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

The choice of black and white

The choice of black and white photography is very common in the documentary photography world. It lends a naturalistic or realistic look even if it is sometimes ruined by its unedited aesthetics. This choice makes it possible to tell a story that gives an interesting angle to the series of shots, where the natural and artificial side is in tension. Light plays an important role in black and white photography because details and contrasts become clearer, (the direction, the quality and the intensity of the light is more visible) than in colour photographs. It is also necessary to emphasise lighting tricks: B & W allows the viewer to focus in on the subject of the photograph. Lines, angles, perspectives and textures allow you to play with depth of field and tonal contrasts. These techniques help make the image more striking. The "street photo" and "portrait" photo amplify these details and help us understand his use of black and white.

Ted Grant, one of the fathers of photojournalism, said: "When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes, but when you photograph people in black and white, you capture their souls!"

Benita Suchodrev kid

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

Benita Suchodrev  elvis presley

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

An improbable and eccentric universe

Her first book is a total socio-cultural immersion into the city of Blackpool through realistic photographs with an odd beauty. The tour of the city goes from the seaside promenade to the bingo halls, along the way you can see the Donut stands, the burlesque theatres and the fairground carousels.

Benita Suchodrev donuts

Photo credit Benita Suchodrev 

The life depicted is the day-to-day life of the people of Blackpool, but the artist depicts it in a particular way, both in its setting and through the people who live there. We see children with sweets, parents looking after their kids, young people dressed up, seagulls, drunk teens…  She offers us a brutal reality that few people get the privilege of seeing in this city.

Benita Suchodrev little girl

Photo credit Benita Suchodrev 

Capturing a particular emotion

Blackpool is after all a weekend getaway; a traditional destination for no-holds-barred stag and hen parties and wacky characters." says Benita Suchodrev. This sentence perfectly summarises the spirit that emerges from this city in the North West of England. A kind of giant playground for young and old alike. Anyone can disguise themselves as ridiculous but no one feels judged. A method of putting ourselves out into society and addressing one another.

Benita Suchodrev bachelor party

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

“I am attracted to the poetic and the bizarre, the bold and the vulnerable. [...] The drama and ambiguity of human expression and gesture during that transitional moment is what fascinates me the most.”

Benita Suchodrev bored girl

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

This moment of emotional transition emerges in many of her shots, such as the one in which a girl dressed in an adidas tracksuit has a morose air about her, hair blowing in the wind. In the following photo, the girl is crying so much that her mascara drips down her cheek.

Benita Suchodrev sad girl

Photo credit  Benita Suchodrev 

Temporary, fleeting moments that will never be the same even a couple of seconds later. These moments remind us that time passes and can only be truly remembered through a photo. The artist introduces us to a different society, more realistically than ever before, whilst simultaneously putting the viewer at ease, by damaging beauty and poetry, and accentuating her subjects’ flaws.

Her book is available online for £35 and it will take you on a contemporary timeless journey.

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