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Work Samples

Visceral Thoughts 1987

(Visceral Thoughts 1987) "Researches have shown that there are all sorts of ways in which the conscious mind is not only influenced by the unconscious but actually guided by it." C.G. Jung

Untitled (#4442) 1992

(Untitled (#4442) 1992) "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."  Francis Bacon

Untitled (#05-14-21-341)

Untitled (#05-14-21-341) 2021

Untitled (#07-09-19-44) 2019

Untitled (#07-09-19-44) 2019


About Connie

Baltimore County

Connie Imboden's picture
Being a board member of the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund, I am not elegible for prize money, however, I have enjoyed tremendously the process of putting my portfolio together and experiencing the website for myself.  This early self portrait was made in 1972 when I was studying photography at MICA under Richard Kirstel. My fascination with photographing the nude reflected in water started in the mid 1980's when a VERY good friend  volunteered to lay in a muddy stream, so I could... more


These photographs are not manipulated in either the camera or computer, rather they are seen through the lens,  working with reflections in mirrors. Though I am a traditional photographer, my images are not at all traditional. My work is not a literal rendition of the body but more interpretive, and at its best, poetic and mythological.

The bold, dramatic red hue that I discovered in the very early years of working with color has been wonderful to work with, and since 2019 it has been a consistent characteristic in most of my images. As 2022 began, I felt inspired to change the color palette I've grown to be so familiar with. I started experimenting with subtler, more subdued tones, coinciding with a softer, more ethereal feeling to the images overall. The transition has been similar to the one from the hard edges of the mirrors in the early 2000's to the soft, simplified elegance of the water in 2005. While I'm still working in the studio and with the mirrors, the lines have been blurred, and the connections have become less distinct. The way forms began to interact while simultaneously merging with one another in 2021 is pushed even further, coming together in mysterious, insubstantial darkness.  

2021 "There’s a thread you follow...."

This poem describes my experience of the last 36 years, photographing the nude, and following my intuition. 

The Way It Is by William Stafford
  • There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
  • things that change. But it doesn’t change.
  • People wonder about what you are pursuing.
  • You have to explain about the thread.
  • But it is hard for others to see.
  • While you hold it you can’t get lost.
  • Tragedies happen; people get hurt
  • or die; and you suffer and get old.
  • Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
  • You don’t ever let go of the thread.
  • Untitled (#05-07-21-45)

    In 2020, as part of the confinement of the pandemic, I decided to take up classical guitar. Throwing myself into this new endeavor with abandon, I found a renewed connection with music. When I made this image, and the following one, I recognized them as musical, but did not immediately associate them with my own growing involvement with classical guitar.
  • Untitled (#05-21-21-198)

    Another musical/mystical image
  • Untitled (# 08-20-21-402)) 2021

    “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ― Carl Gustav Jung
  • Untitled (#05-14-21-341)

    I’ve always been fascinated with the psychology of masks. I wrote an extensive blog post back in 2013 about the appearance of masks within my work and how their presence frequently comes up in my images.
  • Untitled (# 05-07-21-273)

    This image has provoked many complex associations for me - perhaps most obviously that with the KKK hood. As I looked into the use of "pointy hats", I found them to have a long and varied history, ranging from a status symbol of wealth in the middle ages, to dark mysticism and connections to magic and ritual. My research was fascinating, and I summarized my findings in this blog post:


2019 was a particularly prolific year for shooting, and I was able to photograph on a very consistent basis. I found myself fueled by fascination for the deep, passionate red that had been prominent in my work throughout the last few years, and was determined to explore its powerful presence. The majority of images from this year incorporate this rich, beautiful, and complex color, and I still absolutely love it's effects- at times elegant, other times raw, and always intriguing...

The productivity of 2019 came to a screeching halt as the COVID pandemic reached new and frightening heights in 2020. Suddenly I found myself shooting very little- with so much time spent in quarantine, and very little spent behind the camera, I was photographing less consistently than I ever have at any point in my career. Even when I did return to shooting, it was with only one model- masked, and physically distanced. While my work has always featured masks - either visually or thematically - the COVID PPE mask we've all become so familiar with was not something I would have ever considered working with. It did, of course, became an element in many of the images I produced from this year- more so out of it's unavoidability and necessity than a creative direction. But it did eventually become an interesting visual element to work with, especially upon reintegrating the lines, shapes, and colors of background cloths and materials. I now think of it as the "COVID-fluence" on my work...  


I went through a period of being very drawn to German Expressionism, and it's influence seems to resonate in the work I was creating in 2018. Many of the images involved putting very abstract pieces together, hard edged mirror shards twisting forms and creating sharp linear connections. I also reconnected with my love of opera, and frequented more productions throughout the year. I find opera to be full of extreme emotions - jealousy, unrequited love, life, death, murder, sickness, etc. I feel like my devotion to opera manifested itself as an increased emergence of the color red in my images - a color imbued with passions as vast and as drastic as opera, eliciting seduction, joy, anger, love, hate, bravery, danger, etc. My attraction to red would continue into 2019, and become a major part of the work I would create the following year....  


I see the figures in my work from 2012 - 2016 as archetypal embodiments of mythological narrative. They feel like  psychological dramas that we either identify with personally or recognize internally. Nearly all of the images throughout these years were created in the studio and working with the mirrors, often times merging the figures together in ways that illustrate a recognizable myth- as in the likeness of Oedipus in Untitled (#09-04-13-287)- or elicit a recognizable state of mind- as in the despair evoked in Untitled (#4-24-12-012). All of the images from this period are quite visceral, and as if tracing further and further back, become more raw, more primitive in essence as I continued this journey. Eventually, the merging of figures became less seamless and more hard edged, moving on to 2016 where the hard edged lines and shapes of the mirror shards become important aspects of piecing them together. The strange amalgamation of these beings got even weirder when I began experimenting with replacing one model with mannequins in various states of completeness - some missing arms, some missing heads, legs, etc. Sometimes, what is seen of the actual figure in an image is quite minimal - as in Untitled (# 06-08-16-429) 2016 - yet the fullness of the body and its gesture remains.


I began shooting in color underwater in 2008, and it revealed new dimensions, depths, and interpretations to my work. Differences in color temperature of light above and below the surface of water exposing distinct variations that were totally unexpected, allowing me to see the same subject matter I had been working with for over 25 years in a totally new way - a revelation of what had been in front of me for all this time! Color gave form and context to certain aspects of the body and its reflections, things that were more abstracted by black and white. I suddenly felt like I could see relationships and connections that had been previously veiled. It was a thrilling time of experimentation and discovery, and in addition to rejuvenating the fascination in my journey, gave me a fourth layer to work with...

After two years of exploring the complex visual effects of the way light is transformed, absorbed, and reflected in water, I decided it was time to see how "the fourth layer" would impact the mirror work. It similarly defined a lot of forms that were previously annihilated by black and white, as it had in the water, but it also brought with it an element of reality that seemed to magnify the the bizarreness of the images, the tension caused by what is assumed to be "real" that is inherent in the medium of photography. I began feeling more like a painter, and was eager about the notion of experimenting with more color through the canvas of my camera lens. Many of the early "color-in-the-mirrors" images have more subtle color variations. In the water, parts of the body above the surface would appear warmer, whereas parts of the body submerged were much cooler due to the way water absorbs light. In the mirrors, I began by often working with the same palette - using gels to illuminate one model with cooler lights while lighting the other with warmer ones. Eventually, I grew to be more adventurous in my color experimentations, incorporating a more dynamic range of much bolder colors, which is how I discovered the rich red hue that would much later become a prominent aspect in many images...


From 2001 - 2004, I worked primarily in the studio with the mirrors. The process of piecing together forms and figures had become very exact- the way I could compose to visually line up graphic elements, the shape of mirror shards, the relationship of one form to another all became very important. Most of the figures in the images throughout these years are composite "beings", created from merging two or even more models together into one strange entity. They seem otherworldly, or supernatural, yet because their composition is so precise, they seem almost believable. There is an elegance, a grace to their gestures, which was the basis for where the creative path took me next...

After such intense looking and the arduous task of being so meticulous in visually aligning shapes and forms, my eyes needed a break. In 2005, I returned to photographing in the water, simplifying the body to the most minimal, graceful forms I could find. The mirrors had become so complex, with so many intricate layers, that I needed respite in the sheer beauty of the way water can reshape the body. This work resonates with the same lucid, ethereal quality that I had discovered much earlier in images like Untitled (#4442), 1992, only this time, I was determined to streamline the body into an even much slimmer, simpler form. How much of the body could I not reveal, or how little of it could I show, and still have it read as a body?


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