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Mel Schockner
Photographer of 3-D Fine Art & Craft

Excerpts from
SCULPTURE REVIEW
A Publication of the
National Sculpture Society Winter 05

A Practical Synergy
Two Photographers Specialize in Shooting Sculpture

by Wolfgang Mabry

The relationship between sculpture and photography is as old as photography itself. Greater portability of equipment and easier transmissibility of end-product make photography the perfect medium for distributing the impact of sculptures and their settings across great distances to great numbers of people. The educational, historical, political, polemical, and commercial implications and applications of this relationship have been demonstrated around the world for the past 166 years, often with astonishingly far-reaching consequences. Photography increases exponentially the visibility of sculpture, insuring the durability of this evolving, ever-productive marriage of artistic disciplines.

Large Red Fox by RosettaTwo photographers who specialize in sculpture provide a glimpse into the state of the synergy between these two art forms. Mel Schockner photographs sculpture, jewelry, and other three-dimensional works for promotional use by various professional artists. Joe Yablonsky photographs public sculpture in the nation’s capitol and other artistically rich U.S. cities. Each approaches his work with passionate perfectionism befitting the artistic achievement already resident in their sculptural subjects. Schockner is primarily a studio photographer; Yablonsky shoots almost exclusively on location. Each works with the ultimate goal of showing things of great value truthfully, and at the same time from his own uniquely informed artistic vision. Both are confronted daily by the need to apply the most literal meaning to the phrase “it its best light.”

Mel Schockner’s affinity for sculpture has been influenced by his own experience as a sculptor of architectural reliefs, ten years as a photographer for the U.S. Navy, and more than twenty-five years photographing the streamlined, curvi-angular sculptures of his wife, Rosetta, and a host of other contemporary makers of three-dimensional art.

Herb Mignery's Arapaho Dancer

In photographing Herb Mignery’s Arapaho Dancer, Schockner chose a graduated gray background and used lighting to emphasize the sculptor’s intention to show both the muscular power of the fluid, almost weightless delicacy of a dancer alighting in apparent slow motion. Tim Cherry’s Rabbit Reach depicts a rabbit stretching, all the latent speed quietly present in the subject’s asana-like pose and the hyper-refined aspect of Cherry’s organic curves and contours. Shooting the side view, Schockner catches the serene and sentient aspects of his subject, revealing the meditative import of the bronze.

Rabbit Reaching by Tim Cherry


The Messenger by Kirsten KokkinKirsten Kokkin’s bronze The Messenger is full of mystery and contradiction. To communicate this in two dimensions, Schockner brightly illuminates the sculpture to accentuate the athletic grace of a blindfolded female advancing balletically with her invisible message. Schockner’s photograph captures her confidence, the unstoppable nature of her spirit, and the importance of her unknown message, awakening in the spectator the strong desire to experience the bronze in person.

Siblings - Lincoln Park Zoo Entrance

During the week of installation ceremonies for Rosetta’s bronze Siblings at the entrance to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, repeated shoots were lost to poor lighting. Success came only when the end of the last, somewhat overcast day provided the right mood and illumination. Schockner’s appreciation of Dutch Renaissance lighting corresponds to his own understanding of light. “I see just like they did,” he reflects. To create the lighting he needs to express this in his studio, Schockner built his own soft-box as a primary source of diffused overhead light, adjustable in four increments of 500 watts. Hot lights, reflectors, and other manipulations of light provide direct, bounce, back, and side lighting, letting Schockner respond appropriately to the demands of different patinas in his Loveland, Colorado, studio.


All artwork © 1985 - 2011 Mel Schockner