The powerful sensitivity of Marshall Vernet’s photography
by Alessandra Bettoni
Marshall Vernet was born in New York City in 1956. He embraced European culture early on in his life. He first attended the Lycée Français in New York City, then Le Rosey in Switzerland and the Georg AugustUS University in Germany. Marshall then passed his “A” levels in French, Spanish and English literature at the University of London. He developed a particular bond with the “Old Continent” which he demonstrates with his camera, creating an authentic testimony to the greatness of our country through the art of his photography.
Marshall Vernet started his career in the movie industry in Hollywood, location scouting for director Tony Scott (brother of Ridley Scott) with whom he collaborated in the making of several popular movies. The experience in this sector and the deep friendship with the Director made Vernet take awareness of his artistic ability and he began a career first as a commercial director and then as a professional photographer.
Today, his photographs are exhibited all over the world and his style is widely recognizable thanks to the use of a solid, strong black and white technique, giving a dramatic power to all his shots. Light plays a key role in his photographs and enhances the captured subjects which are always represented in a spectacular way thanks to the skillful use of all the gray tones, from total white to total black.
A very interesting aspect of Marshall Vernet’s photography is related to his uncommon ability to give authenticity to the captured subject. His vision is very far from reality, far from that of the common viewer. Due to his incredible ability to leverage the natural light, Marshall’s photographs can often render a very personal and amazing interpretation of reality, which is different from what we are used to seeing with our eyes or what lives in our memories.
Marshall Vernet has an instinctive passion for photography, as we can perceive from his few words:
I’m always surprised by that instinct that makes me take a shot without even thinking about it. I feel a hidden power taking control of everything. Some writers have told me that they sometimes feel the same when words come so easily through their writings. That’s what happens when I travel with my camera, it is a kind of blessing that makes me feel really grateful and satisfied. I think, it’s just like a guitarist creating a melody out of nowhere. – Marshall Vernet
Marshall Vernet seems to have chosen Italy as a foster home and has already exhibited in Rome and Milan. He has taken part to three editions of the MIA Photo Fair, winning the RaM Sarteano 2017 prize in the last edition with the “Urbis et Natura” series, exhibited until September 30 at Rocca Manenti, in the picturesque setting of the Crete Senesi.
The collection Urbis et Natura shows a particular attention to geometric rigor and harmony in its composition. These photographs have a strong expressive power. Architecture and nature are harmoniously interacting and the remarkable light & shadow play that enhances shapes, textures and each and every detail. The viewer is caught in a surreal space, surrounded by a dreamy and magical atmosphere.
A Roam through Rome is a collection that fully shows the power of Marshall Vernet’s sensitivity. The Eternal City’s grandeur is well represented and even enhanced by the skillful use of grey tones and the light & shadow play, both of them being Vernet’s distinctive characteristics.
Through these photographs, Marshall Vernet does not only record the millennial beauty of the city, but he also seems to gently take care of its ruins, of its past, of what is left of its fading eternity.
A Roam through Rome can be seen at the Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art Gallery at Via Margutta 54 in Rome.
Marshall Vernet began his studies at the Lycée Français of New York before heading to France to the Lycée International of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Then he went on to the Institut le Rosey, Switzerland where he got his first taste of taking, developing and printing photographs. From that time on, Marshall has always had a camera of some sort in his hand. He continued his studies by completing his A-levels in English, French and Spanish literature and focused on his German at the Georg August Universität in Göttingen, Germany, all the while taking photograph and honing in on his black and white sensibilities and style.
Marshall’s photography has been influenced by his love for French cinema and early European black and white imagery. He also traveled the world finding images and locations for Hollywood feature films and commercials. He worked very closely with Tony Scott as a location consultant on such films as “Déjà Vu” with Denzel Washington, “The Fan” with Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes, “Enemy of the State” with Will Smith and Gene Hackman, and “Domino” with Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke. This experience combined with ten years as a commercial director himself has manifested into a collection of very striking and powerful black and white photographs which seem to have one foot in the world of classic photographic imagery and the other in a contemporary world of computerized stylings. His black and white photographs have a dark strength to them that combine the look of a charcoal drawing and a classic film noir.