When I told my seventeen-year old daughter I was going to Vietnam, she was very impressed. I ostensibly went to visit a friend who lives there and to try to see the country through his eyes. I also went to photograph (and scout locations for a potential photo workshop.) I am pretty sure my daughter thinks of Vietnam in connection with the TV show, the Amazing Race and maybe the musical, Miss Saigon. For American men of a certain age (like me,) Vietnam conjures up something very different. Read More
My wife, who is a photographer, has been producing some compelling animations / videos based on multi-generational portraits of Indian women. In the process of making the work, she went through a series of hurdles, just like any creative person would. She first struggled through the process of conceptualizing and defining the project. Once she knew what she wanted to do, she then applied for and had good luck getting a grant to fund the initial photographing and the post-production of the work. Over time the project evolved. She has recently completed the creation of the finished pieces. The work uses some of the latest digital technology to raise some interesting questions about time, memory and photographs. In the process of making the work, it seems she got a little too far in front of the existing technology. So much so that one of our current projects is to figure out what existing technology can be used to present her work in the exact way that she wants it be experienced. Read More
The legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus is supposed to have said: “Golf is 90% mental.” So, you are asking yourself, what does golf (a sport I normally have no interest in) have to do with photography, the pursuit that I love? More than I ever thought, actually. Read More
I am just back from Greece where I was teaching and photographing. During my photography workshop, there were also two painting workshops run by the same organization. The “photographers” ate and drank along with the “painters,” which made for some laugh-filled meals. There also was a subtle but interesting competition/ divergence going on between the various media.
The organization running the classes in Greece is Toscana Americana Workshops, which you can find at: http://toscanaamericana.com/. Patrick and Angela, who run it, strive to create an environment that is conducive to creative growth and also a pleasant experience in terms of food, wine and accommodations.
A lot of workshop organizers strive to do this in general, but the mixing of media is not so common. One of my other favorite workshops, which also mixes media, is the Art Workshops in Guatemala. They can be found at: http://www.artguat.org/
The similarities between painters and photographers initially caught my attention. Practitioners of both of the media in Greece started with what they saw and both clearly enjoyed being outside, feasting visually on what it is they were recording. Both groups are very involved in their tools. (Photographers obviously so, but also painters also in terms of their brushes, palettes, sitting stools, paints, etc.)
One of the first divergences involved time. We photographers tended to start early and work late to get the best light. Though the painters appreciated the idea of good light in the abstract and seem to incorporate it in their work, they were not the kind of early risers that the photographers were.
The painters I encountered in the Greece (and in the Guatemala) workshop(s) often used photography as a way to record what they would later make into a painting. For them, the photograph is merely a starting point for something that will be heavily interpreted and modified as it goes through their mind’s eye. They would easily take one piece of a scene they encountered (and/or photographed) and merge that with other elements they had seen (and/or photographed.)
Though it was not common within my class, that same strategy is increasingly the way that many photographers are viewing their photographs. The explosion in the use of photo-shop is accepted as blurring the line between the painters and the photographers.
But the funny thing is that the majority of painters have not felt much of an interest in moving towards the photographer’s approach to image making, while the photographers have long been drawn towards the painters. To me, this seems ironic because when photography was first widely publicized, a famed 19th century painter, Paul Delaroche, is widely quoted as having said “from today, painting is dead!”
My interest in the idea of an image being about what is seen rather than what is interpreted, may come from that fact that unlike most photographers, I am NOT a former painter. I have no background in painting or really any other art. I was hooked on photography in high school and fell in love with the history of photography in college. So for me, photography has always stood on its own and I never saw it as a tool for another media or as a stepping-stone to another kind of expression. That is not a judgment but rather an observation of my tastes and an explanation of where they come from.
I looked at some of the work that I saw from the painters in the collective group when we shared work the final night. What I saw was interesting and often evocative. Equally importantly, it was clearly something I could not have done if my life depended on it. One painter had a journal/sketchbook that was simply breathtaking. The only redemption came when the photographers showed their work and it was equally apparent that they had done things that most of the painters clearly could not have done if their lives depended on it.
There was indeed both a bit of competition between the media and also quite a bit of divergence. I think both groups were better of for having spent time around the other in Greece. Speaking of Greece, I have posted new galleries of my student’s work from Greece, for viewing and commenting. You can see those starting at: http://thewellspoint.com/gallery/ and then scroll down to Santorini, Greece and click on the names of the various photographers.