Born and raised (for the most part) on the Portuguese island of Madeira, photographer Igor Pjörrt’s remarkable portraiture had us transfixed from the first intimately beautiful shot we saw. Currently in the process of moving from London to Lausanne to pursue a master’s in photography at ÉCAL, Igor’s images are dramatic and tender, making use of dappled light and warm sunsets.
“I was having a hard time focusing on high school when I was 17,” Igor explains of the first time he encountered his chosen medium. “Astronomy had been my passion growing up and, even though I had planned to pursue it until then, it no longer seemed achievable to me.” As a result, he turned to the cameras, experimenting with both photography and video, discovering a love of both. With photography, however, it was its “secretive qualities” and still imagery which “afford them a different kind of power than, say, cinema” which truly captured his imagination.
Despite relinquishing his dream of becoming an astronomer, Igor’s practice is rooted in it, or at the very least, in celestial ideas. “I approached this quite literally in my series Betelgeuse whose name came from the red supergiant star in the Orion constellation which is nearing its death,” he tells It’s Nice That. Igor found parallels between this “imminent explosion” and his first relationship where “distance became somewhat of a force”. Despite being a source of light in his life at the time, he was at peace with it coming to an end one day.
Personal connections to those he photographs or the concepts he focusses on are another component of Igor’s work. “My childhood is very significant to me. I grew up playing games like Final Fantasy and always felt a connection to their fictional worlds,” he explains; worlds which he now creates through the medium of photography. When it comes to his sitters, it’s his close friends and family that usually fit the bill. “There’s a power relation between photographer and model that I don’t always feel comfortable with. For this reason, I can be hesitant about working with strangers,” he outlines, “With close friends and family I take my time, I can be clumsy, boring. With people I don’t know, as much as I trust my work, I’m more apologetic about taking their picture.”
No matter what the subject or who the sitter, however, light is an omnipresent facet of his work; “an entity in itself almost”. On a recent trip to his hometown, Igor discovered a Taschen book on Carravagio that he had purchased around a year before he started taking photos. “Reflecting on this now I’m pretty sure my association with chiaroscuro came from there,” he muses. One glance at Igor’s adept portfolio of portraiture is proof of this association. His models pose in classical positions, bathed in light whether it be soft or harsh, it’s nearly almost the focus.
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