Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Kris Graves's Testament Project

Franny's picture

Portraits are interesting in that most time they show us much more about the photographer than the photographed. Even if the portraits are taken within the subjects homes, the artist chooses how to frame the picture, how to light it, where the subject should stand and how they should look. By giving his subjects agency over a small aspect of this production - the color of the lighting - Kris Graves allows us to see them as they want to be seen. We aren't seeing the artist's idea of how their subject should be seen but the subject as they see themselves. Plus the colors are absolutely beautiful.

Standing in the rare books room, taking in his incredible work, I asked Graves how he decided to use the colored LED lights for his portraits. "My dad had them," he replied. The lights were just something he had access to and experimented with. Sometimes it's just that simple.