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Truth in Ray Morrison’s Shots: The Photographer Who Captures Humanity

An artist who values imperfection and aims at a photography steeped in history: fashion is not Art unless there's an identity wearing it

Still photograph from "Le Note della Moda": art direction by Ray Morrison

Getting a degree in math and then morphing into an exceptional photographer is not exactly an everyday experience, yet this can happen if one decides to follow the siren call of one’s passions.

Photographer Ray Morrison

And that’s how it was for Raimondo Rossi, nom de guerre, “Ray Morrison”, fashion photographer not content with fashion; lover of a kind of art and beauty that is not stereotyped, let alone packaged in such glittering perfectionism that one doesn’t know what to make of it, except to note in what an unoriginal way fashion interprets itself and its stale models, often going over the top with a provocativeness that makes little sense to the individual or society.

Still photo by Ray Morrison (Le Note della Moda)

Because Ray Morrison is not playing around with Barbie and Ken: he’s not trying to capture that magic moment when clothes, lights, makeup and wind in the hair come together perfectly – a moment not to be lost since it will never come back again.

No, he’s seeking something else, something more introspective, imbued with the humanity that is inherent in us and is often neglected, especially in certain contexts.

The photography of Ray Morrison (Le Note della Moda)

Morrison changes perspective completely and, just as a great director like Hitchcock would do, he chooses to wait before taking his shots, employing a style that he has finetuned in fashion, but which has undergone renewal: the portraits of men and women he photographs come to accept their faces proudly and lovingly, coming to terms also with their flaws.

His photos, though free of dramatic effects, are replete with history, origin and past identity. But also present. Perhaps they usher in a possible future. His portraits may seem abstract, sometimes surreal, but the photographic composition always imparts a certain harmony.

But it is the waiting that stands out in his photography; he prefers to wait confidently, just like when as a child he waited for his mother to develop the photos she’d taken of him at certain moments: that magic instant in which the wait is transformed into the present, in which everyone could see something of themselves, something that surprised them because it was different from what they imagined or presumed.

Similarly, Morrison waits for his models to abandon themselves to the people they really are, not what they represent; he waits until they are reconciled with their naturalness, until they seek and find themselves in a way that freely reflects their identities, not a glossy copy – nearly always “successful” and fake – of how they would like others to see them or of what they represent.

Morrison is looking for an identity that does not conceal frailties, weaknesses or imperfections (photo). An identity, therefore, that is truth, content, acceptance. People, not dolls or gladiators.

Not stereotypes, but simple men and women appearing as close as possible to the idea they really have of themselves. with simplicity, frankness, humanity. Without being false or forced.

No wish or need to look for, or define, the lines of a face that is not perfect, nor will ever be. Because Morrison aims to evaluate people’s identity through the image and the clothing they wear and never the opposite, that is, reinforcing appearances (or how one would like society to see them) via the choice of a garment.

The photography of Ray Morrison (Le Note della Moda)

It is a sort of settling of scores for Morrison, a way of showing, elegantly, that we are made of other stuff, that we can go beyond the physical aspect and that when the image is an end in itself, it symbolizes nothing as compared with the person behind it.

But society is not moving along these lines, alas, especially among young people, whose lives are so dependent on social media and, accordingly, the image. There is not much interest in exploring who “we are”, but only what we “represent”.

The photography of Ray Morrison 

Just as with the constant tendency to show off one’s victories and successes. Where the body becomes – is – a trophy to exhibit – and trade – for something more.

It is never treated as a precious treasure to be taken care of, a repository to which passions can be confided and perceptions whispered, a container from which insights, signals and emotions can be drawn; an instrument for feeling and experiencing our lives and histories with all the senses; for revealing our deepest and most authentic identity to ourselves – up to the point of deciding to devote it to someone we love.

There is, however, the insurmountable barrier of appearance and the beauty associated with it. And herein lies the trick, the conceptual error: rarely is the life of a person made up wholly of successes – quite the opposite, in fact.

We also become, and remain, men and women with–especially with–failure. Pain. The comprehension of fragility. Fear.

While in the fiction aimed at concealing certain aspects, surface appearance, complexes, paucity of content thrive. Inexperience.

No evolution of the person, of the self. No desire to know one’s neighbor. Let alone interest in discovering how we live and who is close to us. No maturity linked with growth or the value of certain events, such as the acceptance of defeat.

Morrison has a need of this humanity and seeks it, perhaps claims it, in a context as glossy, glittering and rich as high fashion, which indeed thrives on appearance.

 

The photography of Ray Morrison 

Adopting this humanist approach, Morrison has developed his project, Le Note della Moda, [The Notes of Fashion], in which his artistic sense and poetry come to the forefront: both run through the whole short film, against a background of musical notes that elegantly stimulate the sensory memory we bear inside.

A static placidity invites us to observe the details of the clothes presented, but also to pause within ourselves, like living an experience in slow motion, an experience that prompts one to listen to oneself first and then relate with the fashion details inserted in the project. And there is more; because in this tranquility, memories and visions intertwined with traditions, roles, origins, generational transitions emerge: the heritage we stem from becomes beauty because it is already an archetype, in that it can take us back to a world which has been, now past, which therefore existed, in which experience has been lived as a normal humanity which, by sublimating imperfection, transcends it, until, once it approaches the context and elements of fashion, in this process, it is no longer just beauty, but art.

Scenes and people far from the red carpet, in that they are real, true, original and full of humanity, ready to describe their existence simply, within everyday life, normality that belongs to scenes of family life and relations that make up real life – no longer the cover of a magazine. The glossy images only make sense in a magazine.

 

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