I teach my Photographic Portfolio class every summer and always find myself preaching to my students about developing a personal style in photography and giving them some strategies for developing and nurturing their creative “personal” vision. I also enjoy that I get to go out photographing with them on photographic field trips. One thing that I continue to realize as I make photographs and teach photography. You DON’T have to travel far to find and make dynamic, unique and creative images. They are to be found all around us – it’s just a matter of developing a heightened awareness – a sensitivity to the world around us and learn to look beyond the mundane external subjects breaking them down into basic lines, forms, colors, values and textures. To abstract (frame) these commonplace external references into new and visually interesting compositions. Its all about learning to SEE. The great photographer (and mentor to Ansel Adams) Edward Weston said it best when he critiqued young and upcoming photographers work. He would say “GOOD SEEING” . Not everyone has this talent, however with practice it can be developed in anyone.
I’m talking about photography here, however these techniques can be applied to any art form. True artists see differently than most people. I’m not putting artists on a pedestal or anything – just making a personal observation based on my experience and research from 25 years of teaching art history and photography. I continue to be amazed how you can frame a subject and with the right LIGHT, ANGLE and VANTAGE POINT capture something very special that goes beyond what I call “snapshot mode”. Light activates subject matter and can take a relatively mundane “commonplace” subject and make it truly expressive and unique.
Flowers in my Front Yard Activated by Setting Sun 7/08
I believe creativity has many levels (layers) to it. The more one makes art (photographs) the artist/image maker learns to explore and break into deeper levels of the creative process. First its a matter of training yourself to become more visual aware (sensitive) to the world around you. Then once this sensitivity is developed you learn to EXTRACT the visual elements of design out of the subjects you are exploring in your art. Now the artist is starting to scratch into the surface of the creative process, BUT don’t stop there!
Old Fishing Net and Tire in the Weeds – MC Boatyard 7/08
The next challenge for the artist / image maker is to add (incorporate) his/her personal vision (artistic sensibility/style) into the image. This I believe is our true challenge as artists / photographers. Many people can take a pretty, nicely composed photograph. Not everyone can connect with the viewer on an emotional / intellectual level where that viewer can literally feel what that photographer was feeling / experiencing at the moment the image was framed and captured.
Boat Hull Abstraction 7/08
This is what I strive to accomplish in my photographs. I’m well aware that I don’t always hit the mark. In fact, these magical moments are few and far between. I do believe it’s possible and that’s what separates the good photographers / artists from the great. I mean look at Van Gogh or Caravaggio. They certainly were able to tap into the human heart and address a wide range of emotions that communicated and laid bare the “human condition” in their highly expressive paintings. I want to do the same thing in my pictures and this is possible without having to travel to far away “exotic” locations. Some of the best images can be found in ones own yard. It’s just a matter of teaching your self to SEE!
Wheat field with Crows by Van Gogh
Lilly’s in Late Afternoon Light 7/08
Rusted Boat Supports MC Boat Yard 7/08
You can check out more of my latest photographic abstractions on the KeO Photo Gallery Link of this Blog – I just updated it with more images – scroll down for the latest Boat Yard Abstractions.