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Through the Lens: David Specter

Isabelle Philippe

“It’s not doing something that makes you super rich, but doing something that puts your heart at ease.” Such are the words of nineteen year old, Dallas, Texas native David Spector. These words seem to be the forefront of Spector’s creative vision, art process, and final composition. His various collections and photo essays reveal a deliberate yet almost carefree manner, formed not through the pressures of formal art, but through the appreciation of one’s own art.

Bright, bold, and strikingly brazen, Spector’s prominent and compelling collection Color Palettes uniquely draws upon the idea of combining the real of photography and the human form, with the illustrative of paint and colors. The idea first dawned upon him when a friend stood in front of a painting in the Dallas Museum of Art: “I had this weird little epiphany where at first I was thinking about painting on her; instead, we did an editorial shoot in Mockingbird Station in Dallas utilizing flash photography,” said Spector. Separately, he photographed acrylic paint on glass surfaces and superimposed the images onto the editorial photographs of his subject. “While, and after, I was doing it, I realized it was a metaphor for a physical medium. It was the mix of the two,” he said of the blending of the real versus the illustrative through paint.

Similarly to Color Palettes, Stacks also features a range of color and creatively compelling visuals. The project was shot with double exposure, both mystifying and colorfully brilliant. Stacks takes on a new approach to film and how images are created.

As seen in these works, Spector mostly captures fashion and portraiture photography, focusing on color. Bright colors that scream pop art are a main component of his work. Despite this loud, beauteous art form, Spector’s continued foundation and inspiration lie in a much simpler yet equally stunning form of encapsulation, entitled Expression.

Notably an earlier project, Expression captures the portraits of European homeless individuals. This album was what moved Spector into portraiture. There was a mass display of emotion depicted on the faces of these individuals, which resonated deeply within him. He said of the act of taking one’s portrait, “When you’re photographing a person, them looking through the lens at you is a more intimate look then you can ever get while talking to them. Their guard is down and they're allowing you to capture their photograph. It’s an intimate moment.” For Spector, photographing is about being able to evoke emotion from both himself and his work and project this emotion to his audience.  From looking at the homeless individuals in Europe, “a person to person glance that some people don’t value,” said Spector, “I get an immense feeling of closeness. People have told me that when they look at my photographs they feel they’re disarming. I think that’s my strong suit.”

In seeking and obtaining this emotional desire, Spector looks towards nature and landscape photography for influence. The photographer sees color evoked from a natural landscape as a component that feeds into the beauty of portraiture. The unconventional medium between the two styles of photography form a nonpareil beauty that resonates with any audience that comes across one of his works.

Although a cliche in the world of photography, there is something to say about a picture being worth a thousand words. There are ideas that encapsulate and embody the spirit of hidden beauty that lay behind the many simplicities of life. Such simplicities, such beauty, and such passion can be found within the work of a nineteen year old photographer, able to capture and formulate his own beauties. Visually stunning and uniquely created, his work embeds the true passion and vision of what it means be a photographer, but, more importantly, to be an artist; what it truly means to look and find oneself and the beauty in others, through the lens.