At first glance, the photography of 20-year-old Rachel Baran reveals an inclination toward surreal, dreamlike imagery, but the most remarkable of her talents is the ability to blend delicate, fragile beauty with disturbing, often shocking images of blood, death and fire... often within a single frame.
All Images © Rachel Baran via Flickr
As you page through her online galleries, you'll see a dramatic progression from her more straightforward (but top-quality) early work and more recent self-portraits, many of which incorporate haunting effects (both practical and digital) that depict the artist slashing messages into her body, setting herself on fire, sprouting eyeballs from unexpected places, and sometimes just bleeding profusely.
Some of the more extreme images do away with Photoshop treatments in favor of in-camera effects, and show the artist lying dead from a bullet to the head or crushed by a train.
It's fascinating to watch Baran's output evolve from photos uploaded a few years ago to the striking and often disturbing images she's posted recently, and I'm looking forward to whatever she comes up with next. Since she's becoming quite a web-celeb lately, I expect we'll be seeing more high-profile work soon.
Be sure to check out Rachel's galleries on Flickr, where you can read detailed descriptions of each image, including the story and themes behind it, and the technical processes involved.