Famed Photographer Matthew Rolston Grapples with Capturing Beauty During a Not-So-Beautiful Era

This weekend he’s teaching a webinar in the ”power of pleasure”

Known for being discovered by Andy Warhol while he was still in school and shooting the world’s biggest celebrities for Interview magazine (among many other prestige publications), photographer Matthew Rolston has become an expert in the “power of pleasure.” In fact, he teaches a 14-week masterclass on the subject, which he describes as  “a class in aesthetics and critical thinking,” at his alma mater, the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.

Of course, communicating beauty and luxury can be complicated during a particularly ugly moment in history. It’s with this in mind that on Sunday, August 2, Rolston is presenting the webinar “The Power of Pleasure: Decoding the Art of Visual Seduction,” a condensed version of the course he teaches at the ArtCenter.

Rolston has been mulling the subject. “How do you communicate luxury in an economically depressed landscape?” he asks rhetorically. “How do you address values of diversity, inclusion, equity? We all still need fantasy, escapism, glamor, and imagination—more than ever. If brands were to show products right now in the setting of lavish lifestyle, they’d become irrelevant. But if you portray a fragrance in an ad showing fantasy, mythology, freedom—you’re instantly relevant.”

The 90-minute webinar isn’t specifically about photography or filmmaking, but young people in those fields—who aren’t looking to enroll in college yet again—might benefit from Rolston’s guidance.

“I advise budding artists to go out now with just an iPhone and shoot real life, which is certainly not pretty right now, but through a visually imaginative lens,” he says. “Now is about using your imagination, your creativity, to create beautiful images—where none do not necessarily exist.”

The webinar is being presented by the not-for-profit Los Angeles Center of Photography, which benefits from the proceeds. For more and to sign up, visit lacphoto.org.

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