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Tag Archives: inspiration
Context is King
Okay, for the record, Rick does not hate the French. He seems really intent on convincing us that he doesn’t.
Too few photographers look at their work in the context of the subject or client. What makes an image important to the client or viewer is the broader context and meaning of the photograph. For example, would the picture by Addie Adams of the young Vietnamese girl running down the road after her village was hit by napalm be as powerful or have such impact if not set in the story of the Viet Nam war?
Topics today include:
- Really, Rick doesn’t hate the French
- “Dry Ginger” is not the porn name of one of our hosts
- Context is key
- How arrogance and fear prevent a lot of photographers from reaching their potential
- Developing relationships with your subject or clients is critical
- Surreal photographs existed before Photoshop!
- Could the iPod have existed 20 years ago, even if they had the technology?
- No, really, Rick does not hate the French!
This week’s photographer is Jerry Uelsmann. In particular, we were struck by the image shown here – created in 1969 and done entirely in the darkroom. So, for the post-production haters who think Photoshop has created too many “artists”, we’ll point them to Jerry and say it was being done before Photoshop. Beautifully developed as a black and white image, his work straddles that line between realism and abstraction.
Our other artist is Sir Jonathon Ives of Apple. Ives is the Senior Vice-President of Industrial Design at Apple and is responsible for some of Apple’s most iconic interfaces. Rick, an Apple fan boy (an “Apple-lyte” as Rob calls him/them) since the 80s, waxes poetic about Ives’ influence on design and suggests (correctly, Rob and Tony think) that the same design principles used by Ives’ can be used in photography.
“The word design is everything and nothing. The design and the product itself are inseparable” – Jon Ives.
Photography? No, really, we do talk about it eventually! As usual, the guys take the long way around to getting on topic as we have our usual discussion about what we’re drinking, why Rick will eventually play all seven dwarfs, whether Rob or Tony has the larger breasts and, well, you know by now…
Oh, and thanks to Mr. Sadie Breeze for preventing brain damage.
Photography, Dinosaurs, and When You Won’t Change
After the last episode’s emotional tirade about whether or not the photography industry still needs a traditional sales force, things come down in this second part. Instead, we talk about whether the film shooters and even the dSLR users today are being left behind by the advances of technology. Is there still a place for traditional print portraits? Is there still room for the fine artists? How about the RAW vs JPG argument: is that argument going to be irrelevant in the near future? And what about those guys who insist on only selling prints and not providing CDs? That’s an issue we need to deal with.
Let’s face it, photography is indeed changing and, as much as we want to believe differently, we don’t have the actual answers about what will still be viable five years from now. But one thing is clear – if you’re not going to be a visionary in photography then you’ll end up a dinosaur and, historically, we now how that ends.
Artists of the Fortnight
Tony points us toward the amazing photography of Dennis Hopper. Sadly, Dennis is no longer with us but his work in photography remains with us. Rob believes that actors often make great photographers because they live their lives being creative. Regardless of why, Hopper himself has a body of work that is poignant and strong. Anybody who wants to get into the fine art side of portrait photography would do well to take a good long look at Dennis Hopper’s work.
For our artist, we look at the well-known Rembrandt. If there was ever a true Renaissance Man, Rembrandt was it. Schooled in math, science, art, literature and history, Rembrandt used that learning to develop a style of portraiture known for its sharpness and, of course, it’s lighting.
Don’t forget – Our Photography Book Review
Head on over to www.PolarizingImages.com now and take part in our book discussion, The Art of Photography!
Visionaries – It’s a word that evokes a sense of artistry, focus, vision (d’uh) and, apparently, confusion…
Are There Visionaries in Photography?
The guys get down to discussing the finer points of the role of visionaries in photography until they realize that theymay not be talking about the same thing.
Still, the guys have a lively debate about whether or not we can recognize visionaries while they’re actively creating art or if we can only recognize their influence after they’re dead – or at the very least, after the influence is over. Kind of like a gambling streak in Vegas, right? You never know you’re on a streak, you only ever knew that your were on a streak.
And what about the tie, or bond, between visionaries and technology? Can technology create, or destroy, a person’s vision? Or is technology truly just a tool that visionaries can use to bring their vision to life?
Our artists, on one hand, could not be different. But you can easily argue that they are very similar if we look at each one’s influence in their respective worlds. Either way, they are truly visionaries, even if you hate their stuff.
Robert Mapplethorpe – love him or hate him, you can’t deny the importance that Mapplethorpe has had on the art world. Then, when you realize the time period in which he was most active, you can see see the boundaries that he had to cross and the limitations he had to break through. Definitely check out the documentary on him, Black White + Gray.
Emily Carr is one of Canada’s best known artists, was influenced by both modernism and post-impressionism and that is readily recognizable in her artwork. Her role as one of Canada’s artistic visionaries is still maintained and celebrated today, particularly in the province of British Columbia where she was also influenced by the indigenous peoples of the West Coast.
P.S. – Rick and Tony are totally wrong: Rob is freaking FUNNY!
When You Find Yourself Lacking Inspiration
At one time or another, every photographer deals with lacking inspiration. It’s frustrating as hell, knowing that you want to shoot but you end up just sitting there trying to figure out what to shoot. But don’t worry, you really aren’t alone; we all go through it. It’s just a matter of how you power through it, right? Right? Hmmm….
It’s easy to be distracted and blame other things like spending too much time on Facebook, or shooting only for clients/income, etc. But, in truth, sometimes we just get burned out and we seek out those distractions. Fortunately, we don’t leave it on such a negative thought – we also talk about how to get past it.
Rob is starting to shoot new material again and has gotten deep into hybrid photography and that’s seems to be the catalyst for finding inspiration again. Rick’s finding inspiration by specifically not going out and shooting for clients. But, for both of them, allowing themselves to be open to new creative vision and direction has brought a certain spark and inspiration back.
Just watch out for the “analysis paralysis”!
Tony chose the artist and, as you can guess, he went way outside the box. But, if you can believe it, he doesn’t choose a musician. Yeah, we’re surprised, too! It’s Sam Calagione. Who? Sam is the president and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. All three of the guys are into home brewing (big surprise, right) and Dogfish Head provides plenty of inspiration not only for their home brewing but also on a higher creativity level. Sam, and Dogfish Head, don’t allow themselves to be constrained by what’s been done before or by thinking that experimental beers can’t (and shouldn’t) be done. By allowing the creative spirit to flow, Sam and his brewery produce some of the most exciting and creative beers today. And there’s some huge lessons for all of us who are photographers in that approach.
Rick chose Joel-Peter Witkin as the photographer. It’s artistic and Witkin’s work shows his level of inspiration but, as a warning, his work can be very disturbing and definitely not safe for work. His composition techniques are quite strong and his use of black and white really brings a timeless feeling to the images. His subject matter, though, is where we have to warn you. From his bio on the Acid Skull site (that’s the site we’ve linked his name to): “His works carry the delicate tonality of a 19th-century ambrotype, showing morphed scenes with human body parts and deceased subjects with a strong satirical sentiment against vanity.” Here’s the link to his work on Acid Skull.
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The Nude Model
An hour and a half? We could have kept this one going for hours!
Okay, we’re talking about nude photography again, just like we did back in episode 12. Well, not exactly like we did back then. Jayda, an art model that Rob recently worked with, drops by the show to answer the guys’ questions and offers her own insight into what it is like to be a nude model. She adds a whole new (and welcome) dynamic about the topic and you don’t have to listen to the three sausages talk about nudes!
Have you wondered what a model looks for when deciding to work with a photographer? Or to what level a model may want to collaborate on an image or in the entire shoot? Or what the model expects from the shoot? Or how awkward Rob, Tony, and Rick get when talking to a girl? Then this show will answer those questions, and more.
A huge thanks to Jayda for providing such a well-articulated insight into the life and world of one art model.
Folks, this show is a keeper!
Opinions, they say, are like assholes – everybody has one. And we’re no different… we’re assholes with opinions! Which opinions matter, whose opinions matter, and why should we even care? Pretty basic questions but they need to be answered.
What’s Your Opinion?
Look, we all from time to time have the need to get praise and flattery from people. And, if it’s from people we like or respect, even better! So, tonight the guys open up and reveal what it means to each of them to get critiques and opinions from people we respect and admire. Even when what they have to tell us may not be what we want to hear. C’est la vie…
But this is one topic that takes advantage of the differences between Rick, Rob, and Tony. We’re each at different stages in our photography and it shows when we talk about whose opinions and critiques we seek and listen to.
So, this is episode 22 and, unbelievably, Rob has waited this long to highlight one of the photographers he admires most – Jim Brandenburg. Having watched Jim’s DVD, Captured By The Light, several years ago, Rob has become heavily influenced not just by his photographic work but by who Brandenburg is as a photographer. If you ever think you’ve been handed a tough challenge, read up on his 90-day one-frame-per-day shoot. Then quite yer bitchin’. Watch the trailer on YouTube:
Our artist is Eduardo Chillida. Okay, apologies to Mr. Chillida: first Tony tried to pronounce his name and then Rob took a stab at it. Two different pronunciations and both are probably just slaughtering the way it’s supposed to sound. No matter, he’s still a brilliant artist and Tony does one helluva fine job relating Chillida’s work to photography.
So, what’s your opinion? Let us know!
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Watch the trailer for Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light
Art – it’s what this is all about, right? Damned straight, skippy!
We get off to a slightly rough start this week, but there’s a reason – Rick was drunk and Rob wasn’t. After we get the universe sorted out, we quickly get into our usual flow and have an amazing discussion (if we say so ourselves) about whether or not the mere act of creating art can be the art itself.
What, exactly, makes something “art”?
After watching a documentary on Spencer Tunick’s Naked States – a state by state journey through the US photographing everyday (yet remarkable) people – Rob was struck by the number of the subjects who talked about how posing for Tunick’s art project was a healing and powerful experience. And that got him thinking (which always is a good idea, right?) If the therapeutic aspect of the project was in the creation of the work then maybe, from an art therapy perspective, the real art is in the creation and not necessarily the final print.
That leads us down some interesting paths as we talk about whether a blind person can create art if they are not physically engaged with the medium and the healing power of being an art subject. Rob opens up about the real strength and joy of his work!
Our photographer and artist of the week
Tony introduces us to the wonderful work of Irving Penn. From his Wiki Page:
(June 16, 1917 – October 7, 2009) was an American photographer most known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lifes. Penn’s career included work at Vogue magazine, and independent advertising work for clients including Issey Miyake, and Clinique. His work has been exhibited internationally, and continues to inform the art of photography even after his death.
Our artist of the week is the well-known and very talented jazz musician Miles Davis. Considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, his penchant for creating something new from nothing is an inspiration to all artists, including photographers.
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