FIRST PLACE: Mara Zaslove
L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE: Mara Zaslove
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Review from curator Susan Spiritus:
The winning image for me that best expressed the theme, “What Lies Ahead”? was presented by Mara ZasloveDispersing the Clouds as she captures her subject emerging into the daylight, coming outside with her eyes wide open, but clearly ’still in a fog’ with the clouds ever present after being inside for so many months.

While we cannot see how the subject is dressed, it does appear that with her hair ‘dressed’ and appearing to be just perfect as she steps out into the sunlight - on her way someplace, with a necklace around her neck, that she is ready to tackle the unknown of what’s to come as she steps foot outside. It must have felt a little strange to once again emerge out onto the streets…But it appears that she is clearly forging ahead in spite of the clouds, the unknowns, that still persist.

Mara: Please fill me in on the background to this photograph. I honestly thought that your photograph of Dispersing the Clouds best fulfilled the theme for the competition. 

Did you set this up after hearing about the competition theme or was it already something that you had?

What is it from? 

While I would love to know what was going through her mind at the time (the model),  I’d also like to know what you were thinking when creating this image.”

Mara Zaslove says, "I am so very delighted to receive your recognition of my image: Dispersing the Clouds!

For my birthday in July, my daughter invited me to visit a camp that she works at in Sequoia National Park. It was the first time that I had traveled since being isolated due to Covid. This locale has always been my sanctuary and during my time there, I was revitalized both physically and emotionally.

The beauty around me begged to be captured and I had anticipated taking in-camera, double exposures with my film camera. Upon noticing this lovely, young woman, I asked her if I could take her photo. The camera was set to allow me to take two simultaneous images so after focusing on her face, I directed the lens to the clouds above.  After developing the film, I could not have been more enchanted with the outcome.

This exercise of combining the image of a person with the natural environment is not uncommon in my practice.  My photos always feel like gifts to myself but when using film (as opposed to digital), there is the added suspense of waiting for the images to be exposed.

This composite immediately leapt to my mind in response to “What lies Ahead”.  It seemed to capture how the circumstances created by the pandemic will have a lingering effect for quite some time and how “clouded” our reality has become."

Additional reviews by past L.A. Photo Curators:

Douglas Stockdale says, “This layered composition is hauntingly beautiful. Her subject is concealed enough by what appear to be clouds, smoke or fog to be an ambiguous as who exactly they are, yet enough details are revealed that we can tell it is a woman. Even what is concealing her is ambiguous and it may be a double exposure with a cloudy sky, we cannot be sure. This 'cloudy' layer introduces some tension, but what ever it may be has a light values and thus does not appear too threatening. This composition raises questions as to what her future might be as her eyes are averted and the current situation is not entirely 'clear'. 

My only issue with the photographic composition is that there is a light cloudy area at the base of her nose, enough to suggest that perhaps she might be exiling smoke of some sort or kind and darkening this lighter section down a tad might reduce this distracting visual element.”

Carl Shubs says, “Living through the pandemic has been filled with uncertainties for all of us. This photo portrays those unknowns as they may cloud our minds, and it also represents alternative responses to them: shutting down and hiding, perhaps with the covers pulled over one’s head, or having an eye open to the future.  That view of the future may be filled with hope and optimism or fear, pessimism, dread, and even paranoia.  Mara Zaslove has presented us with an image that signifies the variety of reactions and experiences we may have in the midst (and her mist) of that scenario."

Michael Behlen says, “Mara’s image immediately reminds me that the future can be cloudy: with our own emotions and with uncertainty about the state of the world. What is also stirs up is that if you look beyond the clouds there is a beauty in being human and living in the moment.”

More about Zaslove:

Mara Zaslove says, "My photographs are entries to my soul, connecting the intangible to the tangible through light, time and memory. 

Taking photographs has become as essential to me as breathing air, and in some ways, has evolved into my sixth sense. The images submitted to ‘What Lies Ahead’ metaphorically convey a sense of hope as people venture out to embrace a new reality."

Mara Zaslove is a fine art photographer who thrives on creating visual conversations that embrace the diversity of the human spirit, the universality of aging and the beauty of the natural world.
She received a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and later, a Teaching Credential at U.C.L.A. After completing her MA in Counseling and Guidance from California State, Northridge, she became a Licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist.

Her previous profession as a Child Therapist informs her photographic work and brings a heightened sensitivity to how she perceives the world.

Mara's photographs have been exhibited in juried group shows both nationally and internationally in such venues as The Los Angeles Center for Photography, Gallery 825 (LAAA), Photo LA, SoLa Contemporary, Griffin Museum and the SC Center for Photography. She has had multiple images posted on and has received numerous awards including Honorable Mentions and Finalist in several categories of the 11th-16th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. 

On several occasions, she has been published in F-Stop Magazine and Shadow and Light Magazine.  Multiple images have recently been included in the book titled 'California Love - A Visual Mixtape' curated by Michael Rababy.