Jan 172018

Here are a couple of thoughts about 2017 and how to make sense of it. I am NOT going to expound about the state of the world and the hideous political situation we are in. Instead I am going to talk about a subject that I love – my photographs and how they have changed in the course of the year.

The year started off with a big bang which never let up! I shot more images in 2017 than ever before in my life. Of course, not dealing with film and processing makes a HUGE difference, but that is not all. As I look in the rearview mirror I see that not only am I over the hill,  but halfway down the other side!  Instead of slowing down however, I have sped up.

In 2017 I had 88 different shoots – which translates to 1.7 shoots a week for 52 weeks or .25 shoots a day for 365 days.

To show how my work has changed over the last year I have divided the year in two parts; pre and post my Vatican visit.


Untitled #05-01-17-819
Untitled #05-01-17-819

Emphasizing the edges and scratched surface of  the mirror lends a shattered feel to my Pre-Vatican images such as in Untitled #05-01-17-819. A large triangular shard cuts into the frail, broken figure, making him appear thin and brittle. This shard, ending in a cracked point in his leg, implies fragility, uncertainty, pathos, and even hopelessness.

Post Vatican

The trip to Rome this fall had to include, of course, a chance to worship at the feet of one of the greatest geniuses of all time – Michelangelo. For more on my trip to the Vatican see Blog Post Want a lesson in how to ruin brilliance?

Michelangelo did not let me down. From despair to rapture, the expansive expression in his paintings at the Sistine Chapel,  stunningly depict the extremes of the human condition – and he did all of this within the framework of Christianity.  As a non–Christian it was easy for me to ignore the religious overtones and contemplate the momentous figures sculpted out of paint.

Back in my studio I studied the dark, grim figures on the wall.  I loved them (still do) but I wanted a shift – to what, I did not know. The shape of the mirrors has been my major concern for the last couple of years, which means emphasizing sharp edges, breaks, points and cracks. But with a minor change in focus I made a MAJOR shift in seeing!    I moved my focus from the surface and edge of the mirror to the figures. The mirrors are still defining the forms, but without the  cracks, scratches and marks on the surface I began to explore  lines and forms.   Ask anyone who has ever studied with me – I LOVE LINES AND FORMS!

Untitled #11-21-17-412
Untitled #11-21-17-412


Untitled #11-10-17-185
Untitled #11-10-17-185
Untitled #12-22-17-423

Without faces and heads the work becomes less psychological and more gestural reminding me of images I have made in the hot tub through the years.


Untitled #4442
Untitled #4442 1992


Untitled #11159
Untitled #11159 2006


When I started this journey in 1983 I had no idea that in 2018 I would still be on it. As I look back I don’t see  a straight path, but rather a spiral where I periodically come back to similar visual concerns.  The first time I explored the form of the body (eliminating the head and face) was in 1992, I picked up on it again 14 years later in 2006.  12 years later I am once again concerned with the forms and lines of the body but this time I am doing it, not in a hot tub, but in a studio with mirrors.


Mar 172015

After the invention of the CON-traption solved many of the logistical issues involved with shooting in the pool, the biggest hurdle I faced was finding bodies to put in the water. Two of my go-to models that I had worked with for years had moved out of town, and this coincided with a relative scarcity of models in general. The solution was to invite Ruth, a student of mine at The Maine Media Workshops and a dear friend, to stay at the house and spend the week shooting intensively.  Our work together was so successful and productive that as soon as I had recovered I invited Carl, one of my regular models who moved away, to visit and shoot for a week.  This intense method of shooting has become a new way of working for me, and I have since come to refer to it as “binge-shooting”.

It literally took months to go through and edit all of the images from the pool shoots with Ruth and Carl (and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface).  By January of 2015 however, I was eager for more, and invited Carl to visit for another session of binge shooting…

With the pool – and the CON-traption– officially closed for the winter, it was back to photographing in the mirrors.  With Carl staying at the Imboden Compound, we would shoot at least two to three times a day.  While this was once again an exhausting amount to shoot in just one week’s time, the buildup of my visual acuity was remarkable due to the overall intensity. I found I needed less time to warm up- we would shoot in the morning, look at the work over lunch and discuss what was or wasn’t working, and jump right back into it. I loved how quickly I progressed, and I was thrilled with many of the images that resulted.

In the previous binge shooting sessions under the water, I had explored ways of bringing in different intensities of color and introducing more of it, something I had been working with in the proceeding mirror images.  This time, back to the mirrors, I was interested in experimenting with the darker, cooler tones I had grown fond of in the water images.  Eschewing the usual red gel in favor of a deeper blue filter to light one of the model’s, I found myself working with a ghastly palette in these reflections…

Untitled #01-15-15-533
Untitled #01-15-15-533

In Untitled #01-15-15-533, the blue gel over the light on the model behind the mirror echoes the underwater hues, rendering him entirely in cool tones.  The model in front of the mirror is lit more naturally, keeping the flesh realistic.  The quality of the blue is more dense than it was under the water, a little deeper and slightly less green, making those areas appear drained of life, putrified, or frostbitten.  With the bodies combined into one figure, the contrast with the warm flesh is not as violerubens-boreas-abducts-oreithyant as it had been with the red filter, but is still unsettling.  To further change up the color palette, I swapped out the blue that had become an integral part of the backgrounds in the mirror images with the deep red of a large bath towel.  The resulting hue is lush, not quite as passionate or vibrant as that of the light through the red filter, and offers a sense of depth and space.  It is a rich, luxuriant red, like the drapery that appears in so much Renaissance imagery, leading me to refer to it as “Ruben’s Red” after the 16th century Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.  The red creates an environment, giving the background a sense of atmosphere.  Interestingly, I’m working with essentially the same color palette as the previous mirror work, except in these images using the blue as the primary color on the body and red as the background, instead of vice-versa.

Untitled #01-27-15-168
Untitled #01-27-15-168

Of course, this binge shooting session wouldn’t be complete without Ruth, who was not only eager and willing to participate in another intense week in front of the camera, but was able to overlap her visit for the same week that Carl was staying.  Suddenly finding myself working with an abundance of models, I was energized by everyone’s enthusiasm and we were photographing like crazy.  In Untitled #01-27-15-168, Ruth is behind the mirror and illuminated by the blue filtered strobe.  Her figure is at peace, again emanating a sense that she is drained of life, but this time the body tapers from a solid form towards a more ethereal state at the bottom.  The solemn embrace of the male figure is pensive, and the way their bodies line up between the mirrors is very precise.  I love the way Carl’s head seems to rest at the top of Ruth’s chest and neck, and the tenderness in the expression.  I also love where the lines of Ruth’s arm fade into and echo the folds of the red bath towel in such an interesting way on the left side.  The texture and marks on the mirrors surface integrate with both of the figures and contribute to the fading from solid to whispy forms.

As with the first week of “binge-shooting”, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work we managed to produce in such a short period of time, and I still have a ton of editing to do.  There’s such a large crop of really quality images, these were just some of the first couple to really stand out.  I’m looking forward to getting more posted here soon before I’m completely buried by the next intense “binge-shooting” session!

 March 17, 2015  Posted by at 11:55 am Latest Images, Portfolio Tagged with: , , , , ,  3 Responses »
Feb 092009


25 Years of Photographs

by Connie Imboden

Preface by Julian Cox
Foreward by John Wood
Introduction by Arthur Ollman

150 Images
184 Pages

Published by Insight Editions February 2009

$50. + $5. shipping
To purchase via Paypal

From the inside jacket:
“The raw conviction of what is on display may solicit a myriad of responses and adjectives – passionate, beautiful, haunting, terrifying -all can be invoked to describe a Connie Imboden photograph.” Julian Cox

When I first discovered the beauty and complexity of reflections and the human body in 1983, I had no idea it would continue to fascinate me to this day, 25 years after the fist exploration in a puddle of water. “Reflections” features 150 images that represent some of my favorite discoveries throughout the years, including some never before published black and white images and a selection of brand new color work. The project of putting this book together has drawn connections between some of the threads that have come up in this exploration from the beginning, as well as revealed new meaning and metaphors in both old and recent photographs. I’m thrilled with the outcome of “Reflections” – the reproductions are beautiful, the essays are eloquent, and seeing these images in this format has once again renewed my passion for my life’s work.

“Reflections: 25 Years of Photography by Connie Imboden” begins shipping on February 20th, but you can order now via Paypal by clicking the link above. For other payment inquiries, or for more info, please e-mail me at