Diana Frank Exhibits Dreamy Underwater Portraits
by emma sloley
Diane Frank, posing in front of her piece Mexican Pool (2011)
After 20 years in front of the camera as a sought-after model, Diana Frank has moved to the other side. Training her curious lens on subjects ranging from her own children to close-ups of lilies, Frank will be part of a month-long exhibition at the Sag Harbor Florist starting Memorial Day weekend. The flower exhibition came about when shop owner Anastasia Casale asked Frank if she would like to show some pieces over the long holiday. “Her flower shop is one of the first places I go to when I am out East,” says Frank (she often shops there for blooms for the family’s Bridgehampton home). “Anastasia is so talented, and her shop is so quaint and romantic, with the exposed brick and wide plank floors.”
Frank is not represented by a gallery, but rather concentrates mostly on commissioned works for friends and acquaintances, using word of mouth to disseminate the fruits of her prodigious talent. She has in her sights a series using collodion on wet plates, a technique from the 1800s that creates intense, haunting photographs like those classic Victorian-era sepia portraits. One of her most arresting projects, though, is a series of aquatic photographs printed on huge pieces of plexiglass, portraits of swimmers whose bodies are in various states of submersion. There is something both dreamlike and hyperrealistic about the scenes, with their saturated color and fine definition of the smallest details, like a drop of water falling off skin.
Yet Frank’s favorite subjects are her two children with cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank: Aidan, six, and Avery, four, who appear, in carnival masks, in a breathtaking series of black-and- white portraits that she displayed at Pierre’s Restaurant in Bridgehampton this past winter. There are hints of certain photographic greats—Helmut Newton, Bruce Weber, Ellen von Unwerth—in her dreamy, intimate portraits. “I look for people who have a little something, a bit of character,” she says. “Glasses, scars, tiny little imperfections that make them beautiful. Capturing this moment that you can’t ever get again—to me, there’s something both sad and romantic about that.”
With a quick smile and a boundless enthusiasm for the beauty she sees everywhere, from the parchmentlike patina of an old man’s face to the delicate stamen of a newly open flower, Frank began her photography career several years ago with a course at the International Center of Photography, a gift from her husband for Christmas. “My husband always teases me that my camera has saved our marriage!” she laughs. “Photography has definitely kept me from being a micromanaging mother.” Frank’s work is on display at Sag Harbor Florist, 3 Bay St., Sag Harbor, 725-1400
photography by eric striffler