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Dirty pretty things

Rebecca Tillett creates vibrant photos with a 'real' feel



Full disclosure: Rebecca Tillett is a graphic designer here at the Independent.

Feast, Tillett's new show at Heebee JeebeeS, combines images from several photographic series, each with a different focus. Tillett says she purposefully steered away from establishing a theme, because she didn't want to force the photos to fit into a predetermined structure.

"People say my work has a theme anyway, and I think it's because of the lighting effects," she says. "My pieces have a kind of film look, where they're shadowed around the edges."

Tillett uses a vignetting technique to place the focus on the center of the photo, in essence creating a spotlight there. Most of her photographs feature people, but she's just started experimenting with surreal environments. Blending her love of photography with her knowledge of graphic design, Tillett tweaks certain aspects in the photos to achieve the look she wants, including the shadowed edges.

"My photos are so plain when they come out of the camera," she says. "When I load them on the computer ... I feel like photographers do in the darkroom, except my darkroom is Photoshop."

In the program, Tillett also plays around with lighting and layering, producing images full of vibrant colors that contrast with more muted sets. Many of her photos have a vintage feel; Tillett says she finds inspiration in the nostalgic.

Another recurring theme: nudity. While she doesn't necessarily aim to be tasteful, she says her photos aren't "dirty in a traditional sense; they're dirty in a real sense." (Think seedy motel, not Hustler.)

"I'm not an 'artist' in the scholarly sense of the word," Tillett says. "I wasn't always OK with that ... but I realized I didn't need the degree to do what I love."

Feast, photographic works by Rebecca Tillett
Heebee JeebeeS, 318A E. Colorado Ave.
Runs through May; opening reception, Saturday, April 5, 5-8 p.m.
Call 635-0620 for more.

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