The wedding gown. Perhaps the most important decision a bride will make when planning her wedding. She searches for the perfect dress for her special day. When she finds it, nothing else will do. Fifty years later when she’s celebrating her Golden Anniversary, chances are she can still describe the gown in detail, right down to the last sequin and seed pearl. Ask the groom what her gown looked like, and he’ll get that deer-in-the-headlight look, swallow hard, and hesitatingly say “….White?”
An equally important decision the bride must make is choosing a wedding photographer. The images that capture the day will enable those who missed the event to experience the magic simply by viewing the pictures.
There is no shortage of wedding photographers these days, and with the technology of digital photography, creativity is limitless. In the olden days of film, special effects were pretty much limited to double-exposure, depth-of-field trickery, and the use of filters. While camera technique and photographer talent is still a huge part of it, nowadays the real magic is worked with manipulating the images on the computer. It’s amazing what can be done. I have a very special friend who has taken the art of preserving memories to an even higher level. Dietke is an amazing photographer, with an incredible eye for composition and design. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Once the image is captured, she then brings it to life using a technique called Photorealism. With pencil or charcoal in hand, she transforms the image onto paper, creating a one-of-a-kind work that defies description in its detail and beauty.
This is a sample of photorealism.
To see a time-lapse video of this portrait from start to finish, visit Dietke’s web page here. Prepare to be amazed.
Born in Germany, Dietke moved to the USA about eight years ago, after partnering with Chris while organizing an exhibit featuring R.E.M., a band from Athens, Ga. At their first meeting, she realized she had found her soul mate. After long-distance dating for 2 ½ years, she moved to the states, and they were married nine months later.
Since meeting Dietke, I have been fascinated with her work, and recently interviewed her about the process.
How old were you when you realized that you had the gift of drawing? I remember being in Kindergarten and elementary school trying hard to develop better drawing techniques. But it wasn't until I was 12 that adults started to really encourage me, and that made a big difference. My sister's boyfriend gave me a book on portrait drawings - that boosted both my confidence and my skill.
Someone smart once said that creativity needs a solid foundation of knowledge. So when you meet kids that may have talents for something, definitely give them a book, some video links - anything that opens some doors to more knowledge - and see if they take it to the next level. It doesn't even have to be your own kids.
Did you take formal art lessons as a child and young adult? I did take art classes in school, but pretty much only added extra-curricular classes after I started drawing photorealistically. The book I mentioned helped a lot, though - the rest just fell into place.
What was your major in college? I actually studied arts management - largely because I didn't think I had enough potential to make it as a full time artist.
What intrigued you to draw your first photorealism piece? Once more, R.E.M. play into it - I had some pictures of them that I wanted to have bigger for my room, so I decided to draw them. It just so happened that the drawings ended up being photorealism. After that, I stuck to the style.
How long did it take to do your first one? Probably about 50 hours
After years of experience, how long would it take to do the same piece now? Maybe 25-30?
When did you create Brooke’s portrait? How long did it take to complete? I drew Brooke in 2008, and it was one of the first ones where I also took the photo it is based on. You can actually see me reflected in her eyes, precariously balancing in a French window to get that beautiful light. It took about 50 hours as well.
When do you know a drawing is done? Well, for one, when everything I do seems to make it worse rather than better - that's a good indication. But beyond that, it needs to "grab me' - when a drawing is really done, it kind of feels like a little hit in the stomach when I look at it. If I don't get that feeling, it's usually best to leave it alone for a few days or weeks, and then see what's missing.
How do you keep from smearing the image while you are drawing? I used to just use a sheet of paper to rest my hand on, but then a friend and I developed a product we named D'Anna Glass (Anna is my middle name) - it is a glass pane that hovers just a slight distance above a drawing and it has wheels so that you can very easily move it left and right. So now I rest my arm on that while I draw, and it not only keeps me from smudging, it also keeps my hand really steady, it is really comfortable, and it protects the drawing while I'm not working on it. If you are interested, you can learn more at www.dannaglass.com
How is the image protected from smearing once it is complete? Putting the drawing behind glass, ideally with a bit of air between the drawing and the glass, is the most important thing to do. I also spray drawings with about 15 thin layers of fixative, which can be found in art supply stores. With plenty of thin layers it will eventually be smudge-proof. It's just important to check upfront if the fixative works with the specific drawing materials. One time when I was about 14, I spent many hours on a drawing with white chalk, and when I sprayed it, it almost completely disappeared in front of my eyes... Never did that again! :-)
What an amazing talent!! What an incredible treasure for any bride.