Photos by Vanessa Stupenda


I first met VS at an exhibition of her photography artwork in Auzon in the French Auvergne. That is where she lives and has a studio. It is also where I have a second home. I was impressed by her photos and thought they would make an interesting contribution to the website. So, here they are. I chose these photos and added titles. I hope to make further comments in due time, along with others. I hope she will add both some more photos and her own titles and comments. Enquiries can be sent directly to her via her website, which appears under each photo. The following introduction is her’s.

‘Vanessa Stupenda succumbed to photography from childhood. Her genetic imprint gives her an ideal ground to achieve in this art.

At 17, she tamed her eye in a photography workshop and took her first shots in the studio.

She naturally returned to this discipline in 2015 through photo encounters and posed as a model for a period. The meeting with Claude Simon, artist-photographer allows her to flourish in artistic creation through body-painting. For 4 years, she accompanied him in the development of photographic projects combining the role of body painter and assistant photographer.’​ ​

In 2019, an obvious professional retraining after a technical career (microtechnology and design engineer) in the industrial world. ​ ​

In 2020, VaneSsa joins the Atelier-Nomade training, a unique photographic experience that allows her to establish her shooting skills. She has the opportunity to live an authentic human experience through a trip to Ethiopia that transforms her outlook on existence. She explores silver photography through Street Art bringing a social and cultural dimension to her prints, old processes (darkroom, cyanotype, Van Dyke), studio photography on her Photo&BodyGraphy creations. ​ Van Stupe, a nomadic photographer takes up photography with her passionate gaze.

PS Van Stupe welcomes feedback on her photos. For readers not used to commenting on photos or indeed other types of artefact, artistic or otherwise, try answering these questions to see if they help…….. 

When thinking about a photo, consider and try to answer the following questions: 

  1. Does the photo interest you? If so, why? If not why? 

2. What is the subject of the photo? What is the photo about? The answer may be physical, abstract or both. 

3. What is it about the composition of the photo, which makes the subject of the photo be of interest to you?

Of course, you may have your own set of questions, which you prefer. If so, I would, of course, be interested to hear. what they are…..

Holly Striking Out

I really engage with this photo. It is dark and menacing. The holly twigs are clamouring their way forward, almost striking out at the viewer. At the same time sustaining a horizontal line with the trees in the background for which they are content. But also making a contrast with them as background. There is lots to look at and many different viewing paths through the photo. For this reason, it also seems very busy. The angles of the leaves and their relative shininess also contribute to a complex view.

This is a fascinating photo. Twin portraits, but very different. The physical pose; the facial expression; the clothed/unclothed relationship……One has to ask oneself, whether it is the same person……..but it is and for sure. The gaze is confidant and attractive. Natural and self-composed. But of course, she is being photographed and thereby hangs a tale…..Who is she? What is she? She is an offering, but one which does not disclose all. The folds of the dress/drapery contrast with the smoothness of the skin, even with hint of a tattoo here and there. Intriguing…….This photo makes me smile back – partly in pleasure, partly to return a greeting.

Portrait Double Take
It’s ME! C’est MOI!

A curious photo. The bottom half looks like a child. The top half looks like an adult……The tilted head draws attention to itself. I will opt for the child, but with a curiously proportioned body…….The word ‘quizzical’ comes to mind. Or wondering? Or posing? Hard to say. All a bit statuesque……..except for the smile, but even that is tilted and half-a-one….Leaves me wondering.

Trees On The Deadly Side

A nice layout – foreground, mid-ground and background. Quite a vista, although not well demarcated. The foreground is the deadly bit. Well passed its sell-by date, although it does look to be winter. The mid-ground actually grows out of the foreground – content and structure at the same time, then? The background looks like trees or maybe branches. I have just noticed an under-foreground of plant-like growth. Not much by way of colours, although a nice bit of fungus on the main branches. Lots to see and to see into.

Nature Composition With Toadstools

Actually, it really does look ‘composed’, although by human hand or nature is not clear. My money is on nature. Looks a bit like a basket, made out of branches, with earth and toadstools growing in it. The 4 toadstools make a nice centre-piece. And, of course, the colour – pinky orange – is a delight and a contrast. There may be 2 baskets – a physical one with earth and toadstools and an abstract one with just a looped branch. Together they make me think of a heart or maybe a kidney. Something bodily anyway. Forgot to mention the frost, which tops off the toadstool basket. There is also the background of plants, like ferns or somesuch. I am on the point of using the word….’beautiful’……

Toadstool Borderers

Lots of well-formed structure here. Background of rising tree trunks. Middle/foreground of fern or somesuch plants. Foreground of toadstools in clumps (themselves a bit tree-like – just noticed). More edging in front, which can be seen as integral with the toadstools. I like the orderliness of it. Eyes moving front to back and left to right. Soldiers on parade, almost. Muted colours but contrastive all the same. I guess the content is the toadstools, which double as foreground. A photo creation for sure. Am curious of the height at which taken……

Portrait 1.
Portrait 2.
Portrait 3.
Portrait 4.
Portrait 5.
Portrait 6.
Portrait 7.
Portrait 8.

And now for something entirely different. Or rather another couple of portrait photos, but taken by a different photographer, of a different person and for a different purpose. The two portraits are of my longtime friend Philip…..taken by his son Tom. The first is with an axe. The second is without an axe. I leave it to the reader to decide which is which. To say more might be to bias the comparison. But why include them at all?

The reason is for the contrast they provide for the other portrait photos. They are intended to help the reader reflect on and so better understand the preceding portrait photos.

Need a help to get started? Why not try using a version of the questions provided earlier:

First, what is the subject each of the two Phil portrait photos? What is each photo about? The answers may be physical, abstract or both.

Second, when thinking about the two ets of photo portrait contrasts, consider, then try to answer the following questions: 

  1. Do you think the 2 sets of photo portraits are indeed contrastive?
  2. If so, give details of the contrasting features.
  3. Which contrastive features do you like best and why?
  4. If not, list the features which the two contrasts share.
  5. Which features in common do you most enjoy and why?

Last, how might you take a portrait photo of a friend? How might it be the same and/or different from the Van Stupe portraits of me and the two of Phil?

PS Phil claims the axe portrait came about, when Tom interrupted him chopping wood to take it……. an axeman story, if ever I heard one……