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Bringing fairy tales, literature to life

When most people read a book, they picture the scenes in their head, but local artist Lori Harrell takes it a step further and begins to plan her next photoshoot.

Harrell’s fine art photography brings fairy tales and literature to life in photos that blend reality with make-believe as skillfully as a painter would blend colors. The result is a series of photographs that display not just the image of the scene, but the emotion.

“You can’t express your soul with commercial photography because its primary focus is to advertise — what a family wants advertised in a family portrait or a product like soap or whatever — but with fine art you can just open up,” Harrell said. “You can open up what is in your mind. It is done to express my emotions, to share my emotions.”

The topics of her photos ranges from Maleficent to Jesus to nature — each with Harrell’s own unique take on the subject.

“I like to work with projects mainly. I come up with something in my mind from literature,” she said. “I love the brothers Grimm. I love Lewis Carroll. I use the Bible a lot. I use movies. I use songs, and I just envision in my mind to portray what is in that song or book or that movie … and bring it to life in a photograph for a viewer to see. That is just what I do.”

Her all-time favorite photo that she has taken is easy for her to pick out though. It’s a photograph of Shakespeare’s character Ophelia floating in a stream is eye catching on its own, but the photo holds a special place in Harrell’s heart because her daughter modeled for the shot.

“My daughter Liliana and I put so much into that,” Harrell said. “We waited for the perfect day and the perfect lighting and the perfect time of the year in our minds that we thought portrayed that scene of Ophelia from Hamlet.”

The chilly, November water helped create the ideal setting for the photo to display not just a woman in the water but to make a scene from the classic play real.

“I brought her story to life through my photography,” Harrell said. “You were able to feel her emotions as she was floating down that river.”

Harrell spent years taking photos of her children and their peers before trying her hand at professional photography. Her oldest son encouraged her to pursue a digital photography certificate at Columbus State University in 2008. It was at that time that she discovered her love for fine arts photography.

“I just blossomed,” Harrell said. “I realized that is where I needed to be as an artist doing projects, bringing art to life through photography, helping people understand photography as an art.”

She recently began taking extreme close ups of nature, and one of her photos is in an exhibit that opened at Columbus State University’s Rankin Arts Photography Center on Friday.

The show is titled Flora and features local plant life. Forty-five photos from photographers in 32 states are displayed.

“It is a macro shot of my moss, and you wouldn’t know that it was moss by looking at it until I told you, but now you know,” Harrell said. “Moss is very interesting if you get up close and personal.”