World of his own 

World of his own
My Camera Speaks for Me: Photography by Douglas Nesbitt
Through Nov. 15 at Albin Polasek Museum
633 Osceola Ave., Winter Park

Uncompromising reality has led photographer Douglas J. Nesbitt into nearly every aspect of contemporary photography, from advertising to portraiture to documentation to fine art. When he manipulates certain images, the result creates a completely new narrative. Nesbitt's recent work, including photos from around Orlando, shows us our own context in a fresh way and brings us other contexts for contemplation and insight.

Nesbitt's eye captures ordinary scenes that we might otherwise overlook. The blue wire benches at Lake Eola, for example, have a powerful spatial movement enhanced by the large scale in "Bench." Using the computer, the same bench is twisted into fascinating patterns in "Fractals," creating a field of texture and depth. Nesbitt transforms the subject by making a topology out of the bench arms, which gives a narrative quality to something otherwise overlooked.

A self-described "journeyman with a camera," Nesbitt includes photographs from Los Angeles and New York, where models and buildings are the focus of his attention. "Cityscape" is a manipulated image of deteriorating high-rises in New York, within which the title-giving sign lends irony to the scene. This irony is further enhanced by "Windows," in which Nesbitt actually "cleaned" the same buildings in Photoshop, rendering pure the play of architecture and color in the picture. These two, side by side in the exhibition, illustrate Nesbitt's versatility and philosophical depth.

The expressive "Two Women" series documents a Liberian and an Italian model in a Hollywood alley after a fashion shoot. Nesbitt is obviously playing with the models, and their tongue-in-cheek poses have marvelous richness. The sun flare in "Women in Hats" adds to the sassiness of the scene; the background cannon, which in any other artist's hands might be too campy, gives Nesbitt a foil against which their femininity appears fragile, ephemeral and sweet.

Inspired by the great photographer W. Eugene Smith, Nesbitt's statements with the most impact are what he calls his "satori" images. "Where Have All Our Allies Gone," an American flag hanging in an empty room full of chairs, was taken in 2007 and speaks volumes of the times that we recently came through in the context of the global conversation. Nesbitt's captures are fresh and honest, convey emotional content through simplicity and linger in the mind as dreams sometimes do, teasing with glimpses of reality.

More by Rex Thomas


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