Born in 1957 in the United States, Stephen Wilkes was passionate about photography from an early age. He pursued a university degree in communication at Newhouse School in Syracuse, New York. He specialized in the art of photography for advertising and documentary purposes, and opened his studio in New York at the age of 26. He gradually made a name for himself through marketing campaigns and publications in newspapers around the world.
His work took a different and more personal turn, around the series, between 1998 and 2003. He originally went to Ellis Island for a project he was commissioned to do. The island, in the first half of the 20th century was the main gateway for migrants to the United States, where they underwent a series of medical examinations to ensure their good health before their final entry into the territory. On the spot, he is struck by the place, its aesthetics, its atmosphere and the history it represents. He will then spend most of his free time over the next 5 years photographing the place. As a result of this period, he made public the photographic series "Ghosts of Freedom" which will allow the rise of numerous exhibitions, the publication of a book and raised about $6 million for the maintenance of the island.
In 2009, Stephen Wilkes started his second photographic series, "Day to night". The shots in this series are made in a completely innovative way. A single shot is the result of a digital montage of several hundred different photos, taken from the same point of view throughout the day. For a single photography, Stephen WILKES can stay for more than 30 hours, perched in a cherry picker to capture every moment of the day. He selects emblematic places, meeting points or natural spaces where ac-tivity is abundant. He then chooses the moments and people captured during the day and add them on the final picture.
His idea of photomontage was developed during the realization of a report commissioned by Life Magazine for the shooting of Baz LUHRMANN’s film Romeo + Juliette in 1997. Stephen WILKES wants to take a picture of the shooting in a very wide shot, unfortunately the scenery does not allow him to take enough distance to get in a single image all the subject he wanted to represent. He then decides to rotate on himself, take several pictures and add them up later to get an extended panorama of the scene. Looking at the montage he made, Stephen WILKES then realizes that two distinct times of the same scene are found together in the same image. Indeed, by rotating the artist photographed the couple Leonardo DiCAPRIO and Claire DANES, once directly, where they embrace each other and another time through a large mirror where they kiss. A few seconds separate the two moments but this idea of being able to assemble several moments of the same scene in the same image will leave its mark on the photographer and have a decisive impact on his career.
Discover the analysis of 10 photographs, followed by the whole series: