What is beauty?
Sebastian Copeland is a photographer and environmental activist. Copeland grew up in France and Britain, and graduated from UCLA in 1987 with a major in film. Throughout the 1990’s, Copeland directed commercials – everything from soft drinks to sportswear – as well as music videos. He is also known for his celebrity portraiture; he’s taken pictures of Sandra Bullock, Kate Bosworth, and Orlando Bloom (who is also his cousin), among others. In recent years, Copeland has focused on environmental activism. He serves on the Board of Directors of Global Green USA and recently published Antarctica: The Global Warning
Question; What is beauty?
Copeland: You know to mention again the obvious, but beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. As the beholder of the camera, I’m always trying to extract that form of . . . some form of beauty regardless of how it’s manifested itself. And the beauty I think would, in this case, perhaps be expressed in the immediacy of the expression or the humanity captured in the eyes . . . The parallel between portraiture and nature is one that’s difficult to draw exactly because they’re such different mediums. I’ll make the same analogy with photography as I do with music, which is to me there are only two types of photography – good and bad. And so whatever stimulates or inspires me; and when I see an environment, whether human or natural, it’s drawn from the same desire to capture my own interpretation of that particular environment. So I always try and extract the beauty that I see, and hopefully other people might share that sensibility; or at least appreciate whatever sensibility I bring forth in that respect. But they’re just very different. I mean when you shoot people you’re dealing with one face and one body. And then you have an infinite number of capturing how that person expresses themselves. And then when you deal with nature, I guess it’s the same sort of thing. You have to take . . . Instead of taking the position or your location or the position you shoot the individual, you’re shooting what frame you’re gonna capture as a landscape; what time of the day; whether it’s going to be a color ___________ or black and white __________; and ultimately try to process that visual through your own sensibility and your emotional response to that environment. So ultimately it’s always an emotional response. As a photographer you’re trying to . . . trying to report in some respects. I think a photographer in many ways is also a historian by virtue of necessity, freezing a moment in time. Recorded on: 12/3/07
Copeland on the difference between scenic beauty and portraiture.
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