Rapt; The Strange Bifurcated World of Beauty and Brutality by Wes Bell

Used to restrict access to the landowner's property, this series of photographs focuses on trees that have been used as supports for a variety of chains, cables, or sections of fencing.
Rapt - 7th Avenue N.E., Medicine Hat, AB, Canada

Used to restrict access to the landowner’s property, this series of photographs focuses on trees that have been used as supports for a variety of chains, cables, or sections of fencing.

Over time, as these trees continue to grow with these constricting bands of material, the dialectical tension between man and nature builds to a particular emotional pitch. As the wires, cables, and chains cut into the trunks of the trees (a process literally called ‘strangulation’), the organic vegetal response seems to embody human, visceral feelings of pain, emotional constriction, and dogged survival.

Rapt – Martin Sweedish Road, New Paltz, NY, USA

Titled, Rapt, this series of photographs open in a landscape of tightly focused moments of intricately beautiful yet anguishing and intense engagements between man and nature. The sites I photographed spoke to me strongest in the days of transition from winter to spring when the scenes were enveloped in flat, grey light and when there was no foliage on the trees, leaving them naked and exposing the oppressive man-made indignities.

All of the images were shot using black and white analog film in a medium square format camera. Given the focus of the subject matter on the physical and material organic workings of plant life and the oxidation of metal, it was critical to the logic of the series to maintain the immediacy of their chemical, indexical imprint on film, and its translation onto a slightly warm tone, semi-matte, fibre-based photo paper, creating a substantial presence that would have been impossible to achieve digitally.

Rapt – Soper Road, Ulster Park, NY, USA

Narrative

Two years ago, I began writing about Rapt. I did a deep dive search of online dictionaries and thesauruses looking for descriptive words that represented the underpinnings of the photographs and I compiled one full page of short terms and single words. Just as I was about to start drafting a rough outline for the essay, I received a Juror Summons in the mail from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. I knew that the Court tries the most serious criminal offenses in Canada including murder. Since our midsize prairie town doesn’t often hold trials for such grave cases, the timing seemed uncanny. I tried to set the writing process aside but I couldn’t keep it out of my mind. At the end of the random jury selection process, I was chosen to be one of twelve jurists in what was described as a second-degree murder case. The more I learned of the disturbing and gruesome details, the more distressing and yet captivating it became. My curiosity had been triggered.

Murder is the ultimate act of violence and oppression. There are many reasons that might provoke someone to kill but the darkness to do so is beyond most of our imaginations. For some, the unconscious mind can become an overwhelmed, tangled, thorny web of toxic unresolved feelings from the past. They are interwoven into the innermost depths of the complicated human mind. We all have our own unique and challenging life experiences. Here are some of mine.

Rapt – Towpath Road, Accord, NY, USA

After graduating from art school in 1980, I whole-heartedly pursued a career in fashion photography. After quickly exhausting the few opportunities in Alberta, I followed my passions and departed for Milan, Italy, one of the pinnacles in the fashion world. The first few years were discouraging and bleak (I ate a lot of pasta). However, with unyielding persistence and a desire not to suffer the embarrassment and pressure of failing, things slowly began to appear more upbeat. My photographs started appearing in fashion publications in Italy and the UK. Eight years later I relocated to New York.

Within a short period of time, my crew and I were traveling the world on assignments to fulfill my client’s needs. My obsessive attention to detail, choices in design, style, and aesthetics became desired by creative directors and fashion editors, allowing me to shoot colorful, glossy editorial spreads for prestigious fashion magazines and some of the superpowers in the retail fashion business. Life was beautiful.

Rapt – North Chodikee Lake Road, Highland, NY, USA

However, as we all know too well, what goes up must come down. The Great Recession and meltdown of the U.S. economy in 2008 was followed by my own meltdown and personal life crisis. In reality, my life had started spinning out of control long before this, but that awareness was unfortunately being unconsciously repressed.

Like in many economic downturns, advertising, and editorial budgets evaporated overnight and many commercial creative careers were left in shambles. For too long I looked backward and not forward to what could be the next step in my photographic journey. In retrospect, freelance fashion photography generously paid the bills, provided for a very exciting lifestyle, and a very busy social life, but it ultimately left me feeling gutted as an artist. At the same time, my unhealthy personal relationships outside of my professional life started to become strained.

Rapt – Spruce Coulee Trail, Cypress Hills, AB, Canada

I sought professional help that resulted in a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy but I didn’t stick with them and went ‘cold turkey’. I chose not to address the new reality (the truth) but rather lived in a toxic mixture of addictive, intoxicating, and obsessive catastrophic thoughts of grief and loss. I had moved from repression to suppression. I was a mess.

Living in the endless gloom of overpowering darkness and paralyzing denial ultimately led to my short stay at the Mount Sinai Psychiatric Ward in Upper Manhattan. Both my emotional health and mental health required urgent attention. Eventually, I’d learn that mental health is how well the mind processes and understands information and experiences. In contrast, emotional health involves the ability to manage and express the emotions that arise from what you have learned and experienced. Soon I was back on the sofa of my therapist John. Week after week, month after month for two years, I would say the same things over and over again, until it finally started to make sense.

It took a while and eventually, I decided to enroll in a History of Photography class at a nearby university in New York. After that, I completed two additional courses and also audited a History of Surrealism class that helped me understand how the evoking of feelings through the use of visual art can happen in the unconscious mind. My passion for fine art photography had been re-energized.  

Rapt – Yagerville Road, Napanoch, NY, USA

Reflecting on the recent curator’s talk for Perspectives From Within, a group exhibition some of the images from Rapt were shown in, he referred to the five steps of flourishing: playing, interacting, connecting, learning, and helping. Examining the list of the five essentials, it is obvious to me now that some of these key elements to flourish were absent in my life or at least not in sync with each other and perhaps they rarely are. My decision to go back to school and ‘learn’ allowed me in part to flourish again. A major crisis had been averted although my journey with depression continues to this day.

That brings us to my current art practice. Nine years ago and six interrelated series later, my persistent curiosity and commitment to producing new project related series of photographs continues, and through it, I’m happy to expose my own Perspectives from Within and I’m open to “Putting It All On The Line” (a recent essay on my work by Beth E. Wilson).

Rapt – Ashokan Road, Lamontville, NY, USA

The scenes that I am most attracted to are simple and ordinary. Based on isolating and elevating the unseen, they require deeper looking by attuning our perceptions with our emotions. The objects are simple, ubiquitous, and are everywhere around us. The photographs contain the requirements that fulfill the medium’s technical visual language such as form, sharp focus, rich detail, contrast, and rich tonalities also collectively known as ‘straight photography’. The photographs, at first sight, are physical, material representations of reality. Additionally, they are analog-based (or film-based), an intentional choice over digital technology, making them materialistic in nature. They are, however, much more than this. 

A photograph can provide an “optical unconscious” as described by Walter Benjamin, a German philosopher, and critical thinker. Benjamin tells us that the optical unconscious, unique to still photography, allows us to see things in a photograph that we would normally not be sensitive to, the invisible and the unseen. It permits us to unveil or access a part of the mind containing feelings, desires, images and ideas not always visible for direct analysis or scrutiny. Attuned to the ambiguous and abstract nature of life, this series of photographs is multi-layered with metaphors exposing my own issues of fear, loss, pain, impermanence, abandonment, and mortality. 

Rapt – Bellevue Road, Highland, NY, USA

Figuratively, the images raise the human issue of control and subjugation. The open wounds and scars suggestively speak to present-day concerns of social injustice such as domestic and sexual abuse, racial, gender, and wealth inequalities, and the attacks on our freedom such as the abuse of power and the assault on voting rights. Additionally, they address the question of the value and use of resources and proprietary entitlements.

Not wavering from my obsessive personality, strict parameters were once again established for this series. All the photographs were to be shot in the days of transition from winter to spring, when the scenes were enveloped in flat, grey light and when there was no foliage on the trees to minimize distraction as if the trees wore no clothes. Additionally, there could be no moisture of any kind, rain, snow, or even droplets of dew. All of the sites that were to be photographed were to be located within the boundaries of Ulster County, N.Y. although there are two newly added exceptions. 

Rapt – Carney Road, Rifton, NY, USA

From frame to frame they consistently were to be shot at a straight-on, frontal, and level camera angle to avoid any distortion. This would allow the viewer to identify with the object from a close-up and subjective point of view. They had to remain simple, natural, and matter-of-fact. These parameters were intentional in every way as they were selected to heighten the symbolic significance of the elements. For example, the flat, grey light was similar to the brain fog I was experiencing in my depression. It also represented a greyscale equivalent to the effects of the anti-depressants I had experienced. There were few highs and few lows.  In all truth, often there was just a lot of grey. Suitably, all of my series are photographed in black and white. 

Before setting out to photograph this series of trees with the constricting cables and chains wrapped around them, I had pre-envisioned the printed images to be presented in a grid format rather than side-by-side in a single line. The tightly spaced, stacked grouping would be symbolic of the intense anxiety relentlessly preoccupying my mind.

The grid would also reinforce the objective point of view – the physical and material representation of objects that possess a common relationship. The format compliments the idea of typology by strongly reinforcing classifications based on types or categories. Over time, my mind created a catalog of these objects. Grouping them in a grid format presents them in a physical catalog while simultaneously reinforcing the cataloging occurring in the mind. 

Rapt – 7th Avenue N.E., Medicine Hat, AB, Canada

Finally in titling this series, I sought a single word that would be inclusive of the gut-wrenching physical and mental anguish I experienced when developing the photographs in my darkroom as if a constricting chain was wrapped around my neck or a piece of piercing barbed-wire was surgically burying itself into my flesh. I wanted a word that would address the twisted, dark, euphoric pleasure present in my addiction to my self-inflicted mental torture during my darkest days of depression. Finally, the word had to capture the strange bifurcated world of beauty and brutality that exists in the photographs of these oppressive man-made indignities. Rapt. 

Moving from working in total darkness to the red amber ambiance of the darkroom’s safelight brought therapeutic comfort and warmth, some solace. The choice of nostalgic music from the late 1960s and 1970s enhanced the chemically saturated air. Perhaps it was a yearning to return to my adolescence and the beauty of youth when things appeared less complicated.

In a very peculiar way, the long sequence of events presented in the murder trial and the conflicting arguments of the prosecution and defense, bared an odd similarity to the time I spent on my therapist’s couch. As disturbing as it was, over and over again, in the courtroom and in our jury room deliberations, I listened and watched the brutal and horrifying doorbell audio and video recordings of the accused offender repeatedly stabbing the victim with a knife thirteen times, until it all made sense to me. We viewed it assiduously, forward and backward, fast forward, quick rewind, normal speed, slower speed, frame by frame and freeze frame. After two long days of examining and deliberating the hard evidence of the case, the jury in sequestration, reached a unanimous and fully conscious decision. We returned to the courtroom.

Sitting in the jury box, I rose from the uncomfortable chair to my feet. My knees wobbled as I awkwardly glanced at the accused offender seated directly across from me. I looked away, took a very deep breath, and announced the verdict. I could hear someone weep. 

Rapt – Union Center Road, Ulster Park, NY, USA

About Wes Bell

Wes Bell was born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. From an early age he was fascinated by art, which led him to the studio-intensive program at the Alberta University of the Arts, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. 

After school he pursued a career in fashion photography. Bell lived and worked in Milan and London, eventually relocating to New York, while travelling extensively on assignments to the far corners of the world. His acute sense of design, style and aesthetics are highly respected by art directors and fashion editors, leading to editorial spreads in publications such as British GQ and Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times Magazine and People. 

After residing in New York for more than twenty years, Wes returned to live in Alberta six years ago. Since departing the fast-paced world of freelance fashion photography, he has reignited his passion for fine art photography, and today photographs on location, responding to the detail and natural beauty in the environments that surround him. 

Bell’s black and white photographs have been exhibited internationally in both solo exhibitions and in numerous group shows, including the upcoming Oil – Beauty and Horror in the Petro Age at the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, Germany, in 2021. He is the recipient of the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2017 – Jurist Award as selected by MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography at The Washington Post.  He also received the 2017 Bronze Award for the Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibition 160 in the United Kingdom. He is currently working on a book project called On the Line, which includes six inter-related series: Lost for Words, Final Steps, Rapt, Snag, In Plain Site and Callus. [Official Website]

Rapt – Cedar Hill Road, High Falls, NY, USA

Rapt – Rest Plaus Road, Stone Ridge, NY, USA

Yagerville Road, Napanoch, NY, USA

Salem Road, Kingston, NY, USA

Rapt – Loughran Road, Esopus, NY, USA

Rapt – Towpath Road, Accord, NY, USA

Cedar Hill Road, High Falls, NY, USA

Rapt – Rest Plaus Road, Stone Ridge, NY, USA

Rapt – Old Post Road, New Paltz, NY, USA

Rapt – North Elting Corners Road, Highland, NY, USA

Rapt – Alhunsen Road, New Paltz, NY, USA

Floyd Ackert Road, Esopus, NY, USA

More Stories

Boxing; Muay Thai kids by Alain Schroeder

Boxing; Muay Thai kids by Alain Schroeder

Muay Thai kids project was selected and published in our print edition 19. Far from Thailand’s iconic tourist destinations, Isaan, the kingdom’s largest region, reaches north and east to the borders of Laos and Cambodia.
Spirit of India by Jacque Rupp

Spirit of India by Jacque Rupp

India has always held a special place in my heart. My first visit was during an extremely difficult period in my life, as my husband had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
Fotopoesie: The backstage story of a photo book

Fotopoesie: The backstage story of a photo book

An image only makes sense if it "sees the light" and if it is seen by someone. Otherwise it would be just a visual thought. In my opinion, the best way to bring an image to life is through a book.

Call For Entries

We are looking for 6 fantastic photographers
who want to give an incredible impulse to their career.

We are going to put your photographs in front of the eyes of the directors
of the best galleries, festivals and agencies around the world.
Are you coming with us?

DEADLINE | TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022

PHOTO BY © JULIA FULLERTON-BATTEN
Nude Portraits by Martin Zurmühle

Nude Portraits by Martin Zurmühle

My specialty in nude photography is landscape nudes in beautiful locations. In the last year, however, I have also frequently created nude portraits with my models in my photo studio.
A virtual summer by Thomas H.P. Jerusalem

A virtual summer by Thomas H.P. Jerusalem

A Virtual Summer project was selected and published in our print edition 19. A story about a girl being stuck at home pretending to be on the beach.
Death is a teacher by Srideep Banerjee

Death is a teacher by Srideep Banerjee

It was around 1'O clock when grief crept in with the chilly winds of the Ganges caressing my face. Witnessing death of a near relative isn't always easy to handle.

Featured Stories

Eroticism & art; Tantalus by Terence Bogue

Eroticism & art; Tantalus by Terence Bogue

Whatever the version, he has given us the English word Tantalise - the embodiment of promise, flirtation or eroticism - just out of reach?I am drawn to the way B&W Photography conveys these tantalising glimpses. Glimpses that take on their own life in ways that enable each individual the freedom of their own unique interpretation.
Irish Travellers by Joseph-Philippe Bevillard

Irish Travellers by Joseph-Philippe Bevillard

Since 2009, I have been documenting Irish Travellers using a b&w film medium format camera. But an unfortunate incident occurred when I realised I left my bag full of Hasselblad film cameras and lenses on the train from Venice to Rome in May 2018.
Chinese Opera by Tewfic El-Sawy

Chinese Opera by Tewfic El-Sawy

It is widely acknowledged that Chinese opera (Cantonese, Hokkien or Teochew) in Malaysia (and elsewhere) is on the wane due to the lack of interest from a younger generation.
A Show of Hands by Tim Booth

A Show of Hands by Tim Booth

A Show of Hands is an extensive photographic study of the hands of Britain by the photographer Tim Booth, who has turned images of people’s hands into an alternative form of portraiture.
MiRelLA by Fausto Podavini

MiRelLA by Fausto Podavini

MiRelLa is the story of a woman, a mother, a wife, a grandmother. Mirella is 71 years old, she spent 43 years of her life with the only person loved. 43 years of sharing, difficulties, laughs and beautiful moments
The corsair project by Samuka Marinho

The corsair project by Samuka Marinho

This is a personal project developed by photographer Samuka Marinho as an original portfolio presentation. It is composed of over 400 images and has taken around a year and a half to be completed.
https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Mono-banner.jpg

We invite you to participate in the first edition of the Monochromatic Awards. We are eager to see photograhs with new focus points and innovative approaches

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BAnImage.jpg

ImageRights provides intelligent image search and copyright enforcement services to photo agencies and professional photographers worldwide.

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/banner.jpg

The book where words and images meet to never leave each other, The book contains 20 evocative paintings; each of them is a double page. 56 printed pages | 235x165mm

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/call21.jpg

Call For Entries #21 | After 20 editions and more than 100 published photographers, our print edition has proven to be a simply effective promotional channel.

Homemade by Adele Schelling

Homemade by Adele Schelling

The initial drive for Homemade is the stubborn desire the artist has felt to grow roots in the U.S.A, having moved to NYC from Switzerland a little over a year ago. There are a variety of ways to ground oneself into a different culture
Tierwald by Frank Machalowski

Tierwald by Frank Machalowski

Is this fiction or reality? This is the question underlying the series – the images provoke the viewer question what they see. Is this a picture of a warm rain forest or a cold German mixed forest? Are these animals really living in this forest or is it a giant zoo?
Timo Heiny ; My Africa

Timo Heiny ; My Africa

He felt immediately in love with this "paradise which respired greatness and freedom", as Tanja Blixen described in her poetic souvenirs in "Out of Africa".
It´s just love by Sophie Ebrard

It´s just love by Sophie Ebrard

Pornography is the largest and most profitable market in the world today. However, the industry and its works are still subject to widespread scrutiny and taboo.
Streets of New York; Nod of recognition by Barbara Jane Levine

Streets of New York; Nod of recognition by Barbara Jane Levine

Nod of Recognition is a series of portraits and street scenes of strangers captured on the streets of New York.  I walk, observe, and photograph people, following the path of light as it moves around the city. 
Kid Jockeys by Alain Schroeder

Kid Jockeys by Alain Schroeder

Once a game between neighbors to celebrate a good harvest, horse racing was transformed into a spectator sport by the Dutch in the 20th century to entertain officials and nobility.

Monochromatic Awards

We invite you to participate in the first edition
of the monochromatic awards. We are looking
for the best monochrome picture for this year, 2022.

The contest is open to any interpretation of monochromatic photography,
black and white, grayscale, sepia or any type of tone.

DEADLINE | THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2022

PHOTO BY © SVETLIN YOSIFOV

Trending Stories

Kibera by Marcel Kolacek

Kibera by Marcel Kolacek

Kibera. The largest slum in Africa. With absolute certainty can not say it, but it's pretty huge, especially population density. Various sources state different numbers
Son of a dog by Giuliano Reggiani

Son of a dog by Giuliano Reggiani

The idea for this portfolio was born one day a few years ago, while I was in the bar of the small town where I live, when I heard some elderly people pointing out a man who had just entered with the nickname "figlio di un cane". 
Metaphysical Body Landscapes by Anna Lazareva

Metaphysical Body Landscapes by Anna Lazareva

My childhood I've spent at my grandmother's house in Romania, near Carpathian Mountains. Seeing human's strong bond with earth, observing nature, landscapes around influenced my understanding of earth beauty and mens connexion with it. 
She Said / He Said #2 by Florin Firimita

She Said / He Said #2 by Florin Firimita

The world of photography is foreign to me. I’ve been in front of your lens many times, but I never pay attention to the technicalities. I’d rather have a conversation with you anyway. And I think that is the reason why our work speaks.
Vegetable Peddler by Yoshitaka Masuda

Vegetable Peddler by Yoshitaka Masuda

In Japan, baby boomers continue to grow older, and the population 75 years or older has grown to be 13.3% of the total population. 6.1% of these women and 2.7% of these men cannot go out shopping or ask a relative living elsewhere to assist them.
Féminité by Alex Aldegheri

Féminité by Alex Aldegheri

The "Féminité" wants to be a collection of shots taken from independent sets it as a collection of set.Vorrei conclude this personal quest of images with an exhibition (the second in this case) that collects the essence of what I wanted to tell and tell.
Ralph Gräf: With A Holga Through Brandenburg

Ralph Gräf: With A Holga Through Brandenburg

In this conceptual project I have tried to capture impressions and different moods from the country of Brandenburg in analog black and white photographies.
Water’s Pathways by Giorgio Di Maio

Water’s Pathways by Giorgio Di Maio

The first way of communication among men began with signs. Gesticulation from a man to another one, doing the first sounds issued by the mouth trying t o express using face. 
Tribal beauty by Benjamin Angel

Tribal beauty by Benjamin Angel

Women from the Hamar tribe (which gathers a bit more than 40 000 people in the South of Ethiopia) pay considerable attention to their physical appearance.

Other Stories

stay in touch
Join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date with all the latest stories, opportunities, calls and more.
We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use
We’d love to
Thank you for subscribing!
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted.
- Between 10/30 images of your best images, in case your project contains a greater number of images which are part of the same indivisible body of work will also be accepted. You must send the images in jpg format to 1200px and 72dpi and quality 9. (No borders or watermarks)
- A short biography along with your photograph. (It must be written in the third person)
- Title and full text of the project with a minimum length of 300 words. (Texts with lesser number of words will not be accepted)
This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Contact
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact contact@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted. This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation.
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Get in Touch
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact hello@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.