Shooting Like Caravaggio Painted

Pushing Into The Darkness

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“We Will Recover.” Photo by Josh S. Rose, 2019.
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“Young Sick Bacchus.” Caravaggio, 1593–1594

Poor Light, Strong Light

Instead of focusing on quality of light, shooting Tenebrism begins somewhere much different. Lighting is simple because it’s poor light. Not in quality, in scope. Three and four light set-ups are for the rich. Painters have no luxury. Caravaggio had no luxury.

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“Untitled #8.” Photo by Bill Henson, 2007
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“Sisters of Mercy.” Photo by Josh S. Rose, 2019.

Shine a Light on What

If the light finds its way, somehow, from the heavens into your depraved little world, let’s hope it uncovers something juicy. Something odd, something off. This is not a safe place for formal models. Many will argue that. I stand firm. Tenebrism is to beauty as rain is to cooking mac ‘n’ cheese. It has a deeper purpose. I don’t know what terrible underbelly of life exists in your private dungeon, but I sincerely hope that when the light finds its way in, it shines on the lumpiest part of it.

On Fable, On Myth, On the Darkness You Feel

The art of writing fables is largely gone — as contemporary humans are too confident to want to need them. Our great myths emanated out of a deep human fear of the unknown. To explain, we invented. It’s the best we could do without science, without physics to over-expand our rational brain and fill up the hours we once spent cowering in the dark. Churches were the patrons because churches owned the fables. But while we photographers may not get the call from the House of Medici, we can still pull from the fables. And humans still must confront their darknesses, somehow, sometimes, sooner or later.

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“The Calling of St. Matthew.” Caravaggio, 1599–1600.

Written by

Director/Photographer. Founder, Humans Are Social. Top Writer, Photography & Creativity.

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