Though I believe that art shouldn't need to be explained to be appreciated, here are a few thoughts on topics close to my heart, otherwise found silently behind the photos and in between the lines.
The time during which I was beginning to prove myself as a photographer, Steven Meisel was my end all be all. Photographers could take any one of his editorials or campaigns and build a career simply (or not so simply) by emulating it. Just about everything I did I compared somehow to several Masters, and inevitably always felt rather pale in comparison.
Looking back I realize how ridiculously futile it was trying to live in someone else's shadow.
And even though I now look at the likes of Monet, Manet, and Degas and just love their approach in their ability to capture how something feels, as opposed to how it necessarily looks, I wouldn't say that I look at their work, and think, “Yeah, I want to do something like that!”.
I believe it’s more a matter of letting the work take its natural course , and then acknowleding other artists with whom I identify.
Ironically enough, despite the intentional lack of message in Impressions, the style was born more from a philosophy than of any aesthetic influence. In this regard, it was truly the Dadist's that would have influenced me the most.
That said, of course Picasso will always maintain a permanent piece of my heart. I love that during his early years, he maintained a rigorously classical approach. It was only after he established that he could play by the rules that he so openly broke them all. I’m not sure he would have garnered the same respect from the art world if he hadn't first demonstrated his technical abilities.
My approach is about as organic as it gets. There used to be days when I would leave my studio and tell myself, THIS is what I am going to shoot today. But inevitably, after a few attempts my attention would wander and I would end up simply following the light.
That said, I do occasionally love self-imposing small challenges, or "shooting showdowns" to shake up the pieces of the puzzle. It could be a challenge in regards to certain shadows or highlights, or revolve around a specific shutter speed or look. Color tempertures, perspectives, layers... there are so many different ways of looking at something that can be used as starting points from which to elaborate on.
Once I eventually find a focus, the question I ask myself becomes how much to abstract vs. how much to keep, and what are the emotional ranges I have to play with. Exploring these questions usually provide the link to uncovering things otherwise unseen by the passive eye.
Images will then sit in a hard drive for several months until the high emotion of new work has been removed. When I revisit them later, I see which images still jump out at me once I'm out of the moment and can look at them with more objective eyes.
When I love an image as much, or more, after I've been removed from it, then it's time to begin the test print.
When I compare my new work to certain trends happening now in photography, it’s hard not to see certain metaphors connecting the camera with life.
When I look at the worlds of high fashion, advertising, and even art, executing is largely about being in control: talent is hand-picked, concepts pre-conceived, lighting designed, and models controlled. Because are so many interests involved, the idea is to reduce as much risk as possible in searching for the collective reward.
I get it on all counts, from the deadlines to meet and the bills to pay. The problem is that, with all that planning, there's usually little room left for anything spontaneous, which for me, is where all the magic happens.
Conversely, my new work takes on a more realistic approach to the way I approach life. On one hand, I control as much as I can “manually”, and although I may have a specific image in my head the moment before I press the shutter, there remains something beyond my control once it’s been pressed.
It’s perhaps strange to liken them to raising children, but in many ways it’s the same – I can do the best I can as a “parent” to create an image I want, but at the end of the day it will take on a life of its own. All I can do is guide it the best I can.
My current style was born of many things.
From a strange perspective, I can actually credit the technical limitations placed upon me by my equipment. Many times, I was simply unable to capture something properly from a classical sense, so I simply discarded the attempt and went for something where those limitations no longer mattered.
For the most part, however, there was always an inherent instinct to rebel against all the conventional rules we photographers often accept as gospel. Although it manifested itself in different ways throughout these years, that instinct was always there, even in the darkroom days.
The work closest to me will always be in evolution, but it will remain propelled by the liberty I allow myself to make mistakes, and the instincts I use to tame the most beautiful of them.
To pursue this as a photographer, one must value the ability to first unlearn something before looking at it.
Like most artists, my goal is to eventually fuse that which I do for income with that which I do for love. To continually evolve, to continually see.
At the end of the day, if I were in a position to build my home and support a family through producing art, I would be hard pressed to imagine a happier ending.
And if, along the road, I will have created something that has contributed to photography as a whole and inspired a few photographers along the way, well, clearly life will have come full circle.