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  • Do As I See: How Others Photos Help Our Own

    Often, we can improve our photography by paying even closer attention to how we see the images of others.

    The kinds of photos I like to take, the subject as well as the concepts or style, are heavily influenced by the kinds of photos I like to look at. As a consumer of images, my eye have grown accustomed to seeing in certain ways, recognizing subjects as more or less familiar or unfamiliar, translating the language of visual culture into a personal a syntax of meaning that resonates when I turn to produce images of my own.

    For example, I am use to seeing street photography in black and white, as a lot of people are. So street photography that is black and white is at once familiar and immediately recognizable in a way that color work in the genre is less so. This isn’t because one is superior to the other; it’s because one has been my in visual vocabulary longer than the other. Hence, I’m more fluent.

    I find myself deeply challenged shooting in color, trying to prioritize the weight of certain elements and their relationships in the frame. Clothing, for one, is something more pronounced to me  in color than in monochrome, unless the fabric displays distinct form, contrasts or patterns. So much stimuli overwhelms me when coupled with the rest of the composition, including framing and mood.

    So to inject new approahces or find fresh inspiration, the first thing I do is find photographers to study who shoot photographs I’m not use to seeing, subjects that I’m unfamiliar with, styles that appear strange enough to unsettle by habits of seeing, disrupt easy comprehension. I study their images, I read  their biographies, and then, if I’m still interested in learning, I will try to temporarily adopt the style, try it on like a new pair of clothes, to see how things may fit.

    I think this is why, if you browse my shared images on-line, you can see shifts in subject, in focus and attention to certain ideas or concepts, and regularly slips between monochrome and color. I take leave of street or urban photography fairly regularly, too, to try on other genres. These are moments of learning, studying, and fun.

    I tend to venture back to my own style soon enough, but the journey into the unfamiliar, new, indecipherable leaves a mark on both my intellect and my creative process. Sometimes those marks surface later, when I least expect them to appear.

    What I'm looking at now:

    Stephen Shore's conceptual work
    Jaffa by Amit Ben Nun in Positive Magazine
    Titusville Steel by Chris Crisman in Blueeyes
    On My Own by Maria Dal Secco in ZoneZero