Portrait Photographer Blake Little Coats His Subjects in Honey


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Blake Little, "Preservation."
Blake Little, "Preservation."

Honey and art may not seem to go together, but photographer Blake Little has incorporated the sticky sweetener into his work to near-hypnotic effect, drenching his models in an estimated 4,500 pounds of the stuff for his series “Preservation,” the subject of a new book and gallery show.

Though we’ve seen honey artwork before, from Beijing-based artist Ren Ri, that work focused on the naturally sculptural nature of honeycombs (see Artist’s Honeycomb Sculptures Made by Bees Spark Buzz). In Little’s photographs, honey takes on unexpectedly painterly qualities, a viscous, golden substance that almost reads as molten wax.

“[Honey] can distort and amplify forms, highlight physical perfection, engender repulsion, and suggest both immortality and death” wrote Kenneth Lapatin of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in the foreward to the Preservation book.

While the photos capture a beautiful golden warmth, the human form coated in honey is decidedly unsettling, suggesting some sort of strange, science fiction–esque rebirth. Little has other, equally creepy ideas: “When you cover someone in the honey, it has the effect of making them look like they’re in amber—that they’re preserved,” said the photographer in a video about the work.

The series began when Little shot a portrait of a rather bearlike man, and embracing an old cliche, incorporated honey into the session. The images were successful, and led the photographer to further explore the concept with Craigslist-sourced models who ranged from a one-and-a-half year old to an 85-year-old woman.

“The honey has a way of democratizing people—to transform them in kind of a universal way,” Little added.

Check out this video of the “Preservation” photo shoot:

Blake Little, “Preservation,” will be on view at Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, through April 18.

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