Transforming modern photos into Vermeer-isque work of arts

Oman-based photographer, Lena Petersen, sought a point of difference in her portrait photography. Recognizing that time stands still for none of us, and that we are all always looking for some new adventure, something new and exciting, she too sought innovation, a timeless element, a classical, yet contemporary form of imagery. She was to find her muse in prominent British artisanal photographer, Pippa Bacon.
Bacon is a portrait photographer in the UK who has found a niche market and is turning heads with her stunning use of colors, light and texture. She has achieved prominence as an artist seamlessly combining the organic skills of the old masters, and utilizing cutting-edge photographic techniques, to produce her captivating works of art.
She has taken significant inspiration from Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, and she recently recalled that, “Originally, I was setting up my studio, which is quite small, and walking in after being outside for a time, I was taken by the effect of the natural light on the studio, and the people in it. I recalled a couple of the Vermeer paintings I had seen, and that’s where it all started.”
Vermeer himself died in poverty, aged only 43 years of age, but has achieved critical renown over the last century for his unique use of light in small room settings, and his bold, organic colors. His ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring,’ ‘Girl with a Wine Glass,’ ‘Woman Holding a Balance,’ and ‘Lady Writing a Letter,’ are all specific examples of his technique that Bacon has successfully taken and adapted successfully.
Bacon appears adept at “Telling a story, or capturing moments to be treasured,” by using the likes of Sir George Edward Elgar, another who focused on stylish poses in modest settings too, for inspiration. She offers too that “Albert Ankers, ‘ordinary people,’ are notable for their intimacy, while Jules Breton’s ‘manipulation’ of light is remarkable, but how he sets up his people, is amazing, and then, of course Annie Leibowitz has made portrait photography, particularly baby work, such an art form today that she too is an inspiration to all of us who are ‘into’ portraits.”
All these factors prompted Petersen to contact Bacon and she was able to secure 1-2-1 training in the UK, and ongoing technical and mentor support. Herself a UK Photographic Guild member, Petersen nevertheless explained that, “It was as if we were reading from the same page, and when Pippa explained how she saw romance, and timeless beauty, as if on canvas, yet not painted, whether an immaculately costumed woman, a grizzled farmer, a child in all their innocence, or even a family pet. Her Purple Raspberry brand is becoming synonymous with period style photography throughout Europe, and I wanted to embrace the style and grace, the dignity of the art.”
Petersen explained that in technical terms, she is now “much more adept at visualization, at seeing the extraordinary possibilities of settings, costumes, light and shade, at being able to ‘see’ more potential. In a way I feel I’m better able to explore complexions to better reflect the classical nature of my subjects. I think I see deeper into the character, and I’m more emotionally invested in the entire photographic process as a result.”
The positive reaction from her subjects hasn’t been a surprise, as that was what Petersen was searching for from the beginning of this journey she has undertaken with Bacon, however the depth, and genuine emotional responses have convinced her that she has made a good decision in choosing a style, and a mentor of such passion. “I am fortunate too, that I may not have the best equipment, but my Canon cameras offer my significant flexibility and diversity in my genres and choices of a hundred settings.”
In a world where the selfie and phone-photos pretend to capture gaiety and spontaneity for the masses, Bacon’s unique style offers a new standard in artistic, passionate, and patient approaches to capturing the real person within, in a manner which any of the noted old masters would surely themselves appreciate. Certainly, Petersen has dived into the same artistic pool and cannot wait to capture the elegance of the Middle East, in the same way Bacon has captured Europe.

RAY PETERSEN