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Just out of Reach: Images with an Edge

Photography is a powerful medium. It can immediately captivate and enthrall a viewer with frozen moments that appear to be taken from reality. Pictures fascinate the viewer that cross the threshold of safety and blur the line between the personal and private world, and the public and shared world. Historically, photography has been the ultimate voyeuristic media capitalizing on the occasional pleasure of being a voyeur. Perhaps no other medium has such strength to present startling and confrontational imagery that can quickly grab attention than photography.

The work included in “Just Out of Reach: Pictures with an Edge” all have this unique ability to fascinate and tempt by manner of oftentimes provocative, yet expertly captured images. Each photographer such as Andre de Plessel, David Yarrow, and Albert Watson are united by their images that have an instantly satisfying nature and are oftentimes unexpected or startling in the presentation of their composition. Whether it is a racy model challenging the viewer in a strong manner, a wild animal appearing to engage with the viewer in a face-to-face encounter, or a precarious situation in which the viewer questions what is occurring in the scene, each image exposes the power of photography to provoke an immediate reaction.

Although Albert Watson has had a multi-faceted career shooting a variety of subjects, his portraits of women are among his most acclaimed work. A Vogue photographer beginning in the 1970s, much of Watson’s personal and commercial work in fashion and nudes are imbued with a meditative aura and atmosphere. Through his expert use of lighting his subjects, and his soft, filtered range of colors, Watson’s portraits take the viewer into the image through his distinct visual style with references from art history, cinema, and popular culture. His work can range from surreal to sublimely beautiful which always captivates the viewer with an oftentimes voyeuristic viewpoint. Renowned for such images as his nudes of Kate Moss in Marrakech and his silhouette of Naomi Campbell, Watson explores female beauty and remains an unpredictable photographer.

Andre de Plessel creates dramatic and strong images with a focus on the female form. He strives to bring out the sophisticated, yet erotic side of his subjects that he believes is within all people. The photographs convey and play upon sensual tension, as opposed to blatant sexuality. Much power, silence, and an intensive atmosphere surround his dramatically lit work. As de Plessel says, his work is “calculated erotic” because distance and seduction fascinate him. Having lived in Milan, London, Paris, Barcelona, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, de Plessel’s exposure and international experience has had a dramatic effect on his work. He has over twenty years of working behind the camera and creating striking images for companies like Coca Cola, Nike, DKNY, German Bank, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and many more, developing a strong eye and a passion for black and white photography.

David Yarrow's pursuit of capturing close and active encounters with the natural world has led him to overcome the challenges of shooting in some of the most remote and inhospitable locations on the planet. Creating pure and distinctly dynamic images as a result of his unique eye and perseverance, he photographs the majestic natural world by exposing its beautiful yet oftentimes savage side. His unusual angles are the result of hours of research and elaborate planning, as well as countless trials and errors in the field. For Yarrow, photography is about active nature rather than passive observation, often creating a feeling of being sometimes unsettlingly close to the animal. African elephants tower, lions stare into the camera, tigers look up from the water, and rhinoceroses charge straight at the camera. Yarrow has maintained an active museum and gallery history of showings. This year, Yarrow will exhibit at Stockholm’s photographic museum Fotografiska and at London’s esteemed Saatchi Gallery.

Taken as a whole, the photographers included in “Just Out of Reach: Pictures with an Edge” explore the potential of the medium to shock, tempt, and instantly enthrall people with deftly captured and expertly composed images. These aspects have developed alongside the medium and remain one of the most powerful parts of what makes photography so appealing.

by Kyle Harris