Light and dark. Sharp and soft. The palette of expression is personal.

I have a photographer friend I'll call, "Andy."  He makes magic with his cameras.  Every one of them.  At least I think it's magic because his look is so different from mine.  His images are perfectly exposed but they seem airier and lighter than mine.  The shadows and highlights are crisp as cold celery and open.  And everything in Andy's images seems sharper than the content in my images.  So much so that I finally pressed him about his secret sharpening formula.  He walked me through an explanation that sounded so much like something I already knew and we both walked away feeling a bit baffled.  (At least I did....).  At another time a photograph whose work I really like was looking at two prints (not dissimilar to the ones I'm showing in this blog) and he asked me how I got such a feeling of gravity and substance into my prints.  But I couldn't answer any better than Andy answered me.  And then it dawned on me that we saw the world, physically, in a very different way.  That our prints are reflections of our own unique vision of the world.  And I realized, at that moment, that we all sing with a different voice and with a different timbre.  And it's not being able to reproduce exactly what Andy does that makes me so interested in the work he produces.  Because when I look at his work I have a visceral glimpse into how he sees the world.  It's degrees different than my vision.  And vice versa.  

And that's how art is supposed to work.  If everything could be reduced to formulas and spreadsheets we could program photo robots and never have to lift a finger to photograph again.  And how sad would that be?  (Note to self:  reject all creative formulas.   Additional note to self:  Is "creative formula" an oxymoron?).

This photo was taken for Primary Packaging in NYC.   I used a Hasselblad 500 CM,  150mm lens and Tri-X film.  The image above is a scan from a print on double weight,  fiber based, Seagull Portrait paper from Oriental Paper.  The print was toned in a very dilute solution of selenium.


Virginia Smith said...

It's always been interesting to me how people see things differently. I have collected photography for many years before I could afford to be a photographer. The collection has helped me see the thoughtfulness of the photographer behind the camera in the images they took for themselves in comparison to some that just took lots of pictures.
I look at images all the time and sometimes I ask to buy something that interests me, I always get the story behind it so I can learn from what the photographer was trying to do.
The chinese teach creative formula in elementary school art classes I've visited. While some can create good copies of different art styles, some will blow you away as they get to high school with unbelievable individual talents fueled by their creative formula training.
I have such a long way to go

Anonymous said...

The second shot is so three dimensional. It's amazing photographic work. You are a very gifted artist.

atmtx said...

I never thought that I had a particular style. Maybe I do or maybe I'm on the way to developing one. It's great to know that there is no formula or a right and wrong way to do something, in photography. That is part of the reason why photography or art is enticing, unlike the technical pursuits there is no right answer.