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Growing up near Hollywood, where I was immersed in the culture of cinema and recognized at an early age that Los Angeles was far more beautiful and mysterious at night, I have always had a great appreciation for Noir in films and photography. The moody deeply shadowed, high contrast images hold secrets and stories that are revealed in back alleys, behind venetian blinds in hotel rooms that should never see the light of day.
As a juror, I first think “do these photographs fit the theme”? Then I look for work that is unique and a bit mysterious in that theme. Then I consider the quality of the image. Does it tell a story, is it in focus, or if out of focus, was it intentional? I look for simplicity and complexity at the same time. I also want to circumvent the cliché, but in this case, some of that was unavoidable. And finally, I consider the exhibition as a whole. As a juror, I want to see themes that are interpreted in the artist’s voice and I’m happy to say that this experience transported me to a place where I was sitting in a red velvet theater seat on Hollywood Blvd, lights low, presented with hundreds of small stories, each sparking my imagination beyond the singular image.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful photographs, your intriguing stories, and for taking time to submit to this exhibition. Spending time with your work has put me in the mood for a martini and a an evening spellbound in front of a flickering screen with characters I hope I don’t encounter in real life.
- Aline Smithson
Aline Smithson founded and writes the blogzine, Lenscratch, that celebrates a different contemporary photographer each day and offers opportunity for exhibition. She has been the Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine, a contributing writer for Diffusion, Don’t Take Pictures, Lucida, and F Stop Magazines.
Aline has curated and juried exhibitions for a number of galleries, organizations, and on-line magazines. She was an overall juror in 2012 for Review Santa Fe, a juror for Critical Mass from 2009-2015, a juror and curator for Flash Forward, and is a reviewer at many photo festivals across the United States.
Learn more about Aline Smithson on her website.
While its birth was in cinema, film noir is a style that lends itself wonderfully to still photography. This call for entries is for any still photograph in the noir style, black and white or color, and any capture method or process.
Film noir is distinguished by a unique aesthetic of low-key, contrasty light, strong shadows, unexpected camera angles, bleak pessimism, and a lurking sense of danger.
As Roger Ebert describes the style: “Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all.”
The film noir aesthetic that was nurtured in German expressionism in the early 1900s, and reached its apex in American film making in the 20 years from the late 1930s through the 50s. Classic examples in American film noir include The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Postman Always Rings Twice, They Drive by Night, and hundreds of other “A” and “B” films of the era.