Lately, I have been reading a lot of photography books of the coffee table variety. By reading, I mean I have been reading the Foreword and the After Thoughts and the captions, but I have also been reading the actual photographs.
In almost every photography class or workshop that I have ever taken, the instructor recommends to "study the masters", sit down with other photographers' work. By studying others, I will find myself in certain aspects of their work. The problem is that I rarely found this to be true.
Before our vacation in April, I was at the library looking for a good book to take along. I decided to wander over to the non-fiction side, maybe find a book of poetry to bring as well. But instead of turning right to the poetry aisle, I felt myself pulled left to the photography section. I had been down this aisle before, and had even checked out books, but they were always from the "suggested" list of masters. They were usually returned before they were due.
Scanning the shelves, I decided to let Titles and Covers be my guide instead of suggested lists. The above book got me with both title and cover. This might be me.
The best part of this book besides the subject matter was that it was a collection of a couple dozen different photographers. I was bound to find a few that resonated with me. And I did, six of the photographers in the book had work that drew me in, and made me want to stay. Even the photographers' work that didn't resonate was helpful, because it showed me things that didn't speak to me or unsettled me, and I was able to figure out why.
The light bulb moment came when I turned to this two page layout. Photographer David Husom photographed county fair buildings in the 1980's through the 1990's. These two buildings couldn't have been more perfectly paired for me to analyze. While the one on the left had elements I liked: typography, painted white wood, and little pops of red. It is the brick building on the right that made me want to walk into the photograph and explore.
This one held me at arm's length. I wasn't close enough to catch glimpses of the inside to see what mysteries it might hold. There wasn't enough intriguing detail to make me want to stay. This was taken in bright sun, not my favorite time of day.
Now this one. First, I feel I am standing on the street right in front of it. The open doorway gives me glimpses of what's inside. I want to see what those windows in the back of the building look like. I imagine the light is amazing in there. The golden light warms the brick on the front of the building and reflects gloriously on those windows on the right. The design of the tile around the open doorway. The number 2. The Youth Cattle sign and the lightening rods that flank the sign. All of those details are a visual feast. Everything is very symmetrical, except for that lone bush on the left side. I feel calm, balanced, but also intrigued.
After this two page spread, I began to look at the remaining photographs with new eyes.
Here is a list of the other photographers in the book, whose work intrigued me:
HappeningsIt has been a good couple of weeks away. We/I still haven't gotten everything done that we wanted to do. We got the 15 yards of bark spread. We spent a very hot Memorial Day weekend staining the deck. The kitchen flooring went in Wednesday, the kitchen feels so much more complete now. But there is still painting, drywall patching, and finding a new half bath vanity that makes me happy.
I didn't do any filming in May, after completing eight vacation films from April, there just wasn't the time or the desire to film more. But June shows promise, I am joining some others from the Make Films:12 course and committing to thirty days of filming. I am ever so hopeful that I won't lose steam on this.
I signed my husband and I up for a photography workshop in August - Abandoned Buildings in Gary, Indiana. Doesn't that sound like heaven?
I will be in and out this summer. Sharing when I have something of value to say. Otherwise, I will be around on Instagram and Facebook.