Bettina Von Zwhel - Artist Research and visual response

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“My work to date is fundamentally inspired by my fascination for the human face and human relations” -


Bettina Von Zwehl is a German photographer who has an interest in profile photography, she is known for photographing individuals in physical and emotional scenarios.



As I want to focus on tiredness/exhaustion I chose to look at the work of Bettina Von Zwehl, when I came across her series of portraits I immediately saw this raw essence of fatigue. The way she photographs these individuals depicts only a fragment of reality, as the subjects were unaware when the photograph was taken. The fact that these people were oblivious of the photo being taken allows this vulnerability to come to the image, as it shows the ‘true’ emotion. The photographs can also raise a question of can we really show truth in an image, each second we change, we change the way we stand, our facial expression, body language, etc. So is it impossible to capture truth?


In the image I presented shows a woman portraying a vacant expression, allowing almost no emotion towards the camera. The reason that I chose this image is due to the appearance of the model, including the hair, lack of make-up and simplistic clothing; it hints an essence of exhaustion. I feel that I am noticing these parts on the image as we have been socially constructed in the way that we perceive an individual.


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“The research sphere is portraiture and its embodiment of emotion. The series of photographs explores our relation with water and, specifically that most elemental manifestation of water, rain. The body is transformed by rain both in terms of its physical state but also in the way that we present ourselves when wet to public scrutiny. Rain can be a pleasure or a nuisance. It can refresh but also damage. Using artificial rain this practice based research set out to see how people react and how they present themselves for portraiture when transformed by rain.” -


I also came across this series of images that Zwehl created, here she is photographing her subject under artificial rain. When I view these images I immediately get this sense of purity, due to the rain ‘washing away sin’, therefore it could be quite biblical in a sense. Another perspective on this series could be how rain can clarify detail in the human structure and emphasis formation. I feel it also creates this seldom moment where emotion becomes more visible to the viewer, and an element of freedom is reviled.


Reflecting these images upon my own ideas, I noticed that Zwehl has communicated fragments of the same concepts that I intend. Therefore, I am going to do a photo-shoot imitating Zwehl’s style and I will attempt to get this emotional, exhausted feel to my image. However, I will stage this narrative, which will exclude the truth in my images.

Visual response



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