Elsa Bleda and her Neon Dystopia

A subject, light, and color, are the only core components of a photo.  Color and light, of course, play off one another dramatically, working to modify the subject or their surroundings in any number of ways.  Regardless of your specific approach to photography, these are what I find to be the essential aspects of a photo, and their (minimum) relationship to one another.  Subject, light, color.  

Elsa Bleda has somehow managed to fuse all three of these elements into one with her images of a neon-filled and often mystical Eastern Europe.  

The light is simultaneously, well, the light, but also the color and in many cases the subject as well.  There are a million ways to define what “the subject” of a photo is, but to me, the lights in her photos are the primary visual element, and they are generally the most alive, the most intriguing as well.

The first comparisons that come to mind are the paintings of Edward Hopper and the pictures of Gregory Crewdson, the latter certainly informed by the former.  Both Hopper and Crewdson pay especially close attention to the way the presence and absence of light affects an image, with their most similar works using it sparingly but with great intention.

Morning Sun by Edward Hopper, 1952

Woman at Sink by Gregory Crewdson, 2014

Woman at Sink by Gregory Crewdson, 2014

While Bleda's images don’t quite reach the dramatic heights of Hopper or Crewdson in my eyes, it’s clear to me that she understands the general power of light and color.  What she doesn’t have, however, is the power of staging.  As a painter, Hopper has the ability to augment or detract from his scenes at will, creating them as he perceives them, not as they are.  Crewdson for all intents and purposes is no different.  The images Crewdson makes get their look the same way a film set would: lots and lots of staging.  Obviously, his photos often include actors and props, but beyond that Credsons photoshoots often more closely resemble film set than they do photo shoots.  

All this is just to say hat Bleda’s ability to capture these image out in the world more or less as they naturally appear, makes them all the more impressive. For more of her work see her website, and Instagram.