Location: New Zealand
Photographer, artist and filmmaker LISA POWERS tells extraordinary stories through a history-inspired lens. Her photographic artwork can be found in private and public collections globally.
Commercially, her photographs and artworks have been featured in several publications such as New York Times magazine, Vogue Japan, Parco Tokyo, Psychology Today, American Photography, and most notably Art&Antiques magazine.
Powers has received over 100 prestigious awards for her work, was named The Circle Foundation for the Arts' Photographer of the Year, and awarded Distinction Honours from the Royal Photographic Society, UK.
She was born in France of French/Italian lineage and grew up bi-coastal: New York and California.
She achieved renown in photography in the 1980s with her innovative compositions and lighting techniques. As one of the few successful female commercial and fashion photographers of her time, she was highly sought-after for her artistic intellect and unique style.
Lisa is a master of photographic techniques, and her visuals often take on an otherworldly Film Noir aesthetic – transforming retro imagery into thought-provoking and visually stunning pieces.
"I am entirely self-taught in photography, and I continue learning. I think it’s precisely because I’m self-taught that I fearlessly embraced the digital darkroom and added new techniques to my traditional film/darkroom photography. I shoot people (mostly)…my background in shooting fashion is always influencing my work.”
She travelled widely and worked in New York, Hollywood, Paris and Tokyo before relocating to New Zealand where she now lives and works.
I created a series of photographs representing my interpretation of WanRong, in hopes of giving her the recognition she never received in life.
The last Empress of China was the beautiful and American-educated WanRong who was selected (against her will) to marry Emperor PuYi when she was just 16. PuYi selected his bride from photographs of eligible young girls. The photographs that were presented to PuYi were not of fine quality and he chose a girl who was inappropriate for his wife as she was only 12 years old. PuYi’s family then selected WanRong for him and they married. His original choice, the 12-year-old girl, became his concubine. WanRong was trapped between her sophisticated modern Western education which she embraced, and the confinement of Chinese Imperialist culture in the Forbidden City. After only a couple of years of marriage, PuYi and WanRong were forced out of the Forbidden City by the Japanese invasion of China and installed as Emperor and Empress of the Japanese puppet state, Manchukuo in Manchuria. WanRong had no love for her husband PuYi and had affairs with his aides. She even gave birth to a daughter but the whereabouts of this child are unknown. It's clear that WanRong was not permitted to raise her baby girl as PuYi was enraged at her infidelity. There were rumours that PuYi killed the child, and rumours that the child was given away. WanRong was in such despair that she started using opium as a sedative. In 1945 (around the end of WWII) the Soviets invaded Manchuria, where Manchukuo was located. PuYi fled for his life leaving his wife behind. As as a result, she was captured by the Chinese Communist guards. She lived in different internment camps and eventually died of opium withdrawal and malnutrition in prison in 1946 at age 39. Three years later, when PuYi was told of her death, he couldn't have cared less.
To this day, her remains were never found. She vanished completely.
I hope to honour her in these photographs.
This series was inspired by vintage images of the actress, Greta Garbo. The model was the beautiful Claudia Carter, photographed in my studio in New Zealand.
Claudia in dress by Trelise Cooper
My homage to Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists.
The Vienna Secession was founded on 3 April 1897 by artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and others.
The group's exhibition policy was notable for providing the first dedicated space for contemporary art in the city, with the express aim of making contacts with international art movements and campaigning against nationalism in art.
Inspired by Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer" which had been stolen by the Nazis and recently returned to the family.
I've been honoured to photograph several outstanding individuals over my long career as a commercial photographer, and here are a few:
The GREAT Dudley Moore with his inamorata Brogan Lane...
The amazing New Zealand dancer, choreographer, writer and poet, Douglas Wright.
Super-model with the mile-long legs: L'Wren Scott...also talented stylist and fashion designer.
Photographed for "la Femme Nikita"
La femme Nikita
Madonna in Top Hat
Author Michael Crichton Jurassic Park photo shoot for New York Times.
Photographed at Zoetrope Studios