Ransom and Mitchell’s Smoke & Mirrors Photo Series Is Portraiture Gone Surreal

Ransom Mitchell Photographs From Smoke Mirrors

Her Burdens Are Her Pleasures

The Alchemist

The Nobleman

Ransom and Mitchell‘s photo series, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ is currently on show in San Francisco – a much anticipated exhibition that I wish I could go to. I came across their work a few months ago, stumbling as I am wont to do, across a post that brought me behind the scenes of the shoot. It was marvellous, a revealing look into how they created, built and shot these incredibly ornate, surreal and magical portraits of their artist friends.

These are not photo manipulations rather they are incredible theatrical sets built by the couple – Stacey Ransom is a set designer and photo – illustrator while Jason Mitchell is a photographer and director – based on the personalities of the characters they were shooting – a kind of hyper reflection, a surreal vision of their subjects id.

Here’s what they have to say about their latest work:

Through a combination of cinematic lighting, theatrically-designed sets, and an illustrative approach that is inspired by the Italian and Dutch Master painters, we aim to create worlds that cannot exist (and quite possibly shouldn’t). In our show, we are presenting two unique bodies of work, consisting of fourteen cinematically themed tableaus, twenty seven artist portraits and two short films. For our narrative pieces, we have combined epic scenes of lush grandeur with uncomfortable emotional themes that address issue of obsession, consumption and longing.

The show is currently on at Varnish Fine Art, 16 Jessie St., San Francisco and will be exhibited until the 27th October. So if you’re there go see it. In some ways their work reminds me of the fantastic portraits taken by Chinese photographer and portraitist Ma Liang who takes his inspiration from Chinese opera.