Digital Photo Pro

LYDIA PANAS Speaks Her Mind In Portraits

My work is so much about home,” says Lydia Panas, when describing her unique brand of conceptual portraiture. “At some level, it’s about where we come from and how that influences who we become.”

Working primarily in the tranquil conditions of her 70-acre farm in rural Pennsylvania, Panas poses her subjects amid bucolic landscape settings and draped studio backdrops, alternating between environments and camera models for each successive series. She employs both large- and medium-format cameras—a Horseman Woodman 4x5 and a Hasselblad 500C/M SLR—to record fleeting details of the faces, positioning and gestures of an assortment of family members, friends, students and acquaintances.

Observing her subjects through the inverted view of the ground glass heightens the intensity of her concentration. “I’m all there when I’m photographing,” she notes, “because the faces have to be just right or I can’t use the picture.”

As she describes it, her austere, probing photographs seek to capture “the most basic part of being a human being. How people relate to each other, and the resulting connections, relationships and trust, these are the things that fascinate me,” she notes.

“I’ve always been

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