Broken Dreams, Photography by Ray Carofano

Broken Dreams, Photography by Ray Carofano

By Brooks Jensen, publisher and editor of LensWork


How does one develop a project style? Ray Carofano demonstrates the way with this project, Broken Dreams. The subject is, not surprisingly, about loss, about failure, about defeat. He echoes that emotional theme with his dark moody images, using extreme contrast and soft focus. He heavily vignettes each image, which enhances the dream. Perhaps more importantly, he frequently uses a composition that emphasizes upward mobility that ends in frustration. Broken Dreams, indeed.

For example, in this image there is the literal interpretation of the stairs that seem to climb up. Of course, in real life, stairs also allow us to descend, but by using a low camera angle these stairs appear almost one directional.

 Notice, too, that the stairs not only end without going anywhere, but their rise terminates at a point lower than the halfway mark of the composition. We have a feeling that we can rise, a bit, but not too far, and certainly not far enough for psychological success or a spiritual ascension into the clouds. We may try to go up the stairs, but we are destined to remain earthbound. Broken dreams, indeed.

But there is more: Notice even the clouds are earthbound, more like fog or mist rather than celestial things. And finally, there are the cement blocks to the left and right of the stairs, appearing as though they too have tumbled back to earth after a failed attempt at height.

The combination of all this, enhanced by the dark and moody style, speak to the theme of broken dreams in every detail. Carofano has created a magnificent project that demonstrates extraordinary artistic sensitivity made manifest through a visual style.