Wednesday, July 21, 2010

rutting around (and getting to interiors)

i blame the incredible Sally Mann for forcing me into my latest photo rut. to be fair, i also credit her for helping me out of it.

to explain: way back when, when i began writing fiction, a very wise man told me to read everything i could get my hands on. and i did. i read a lot. actually, i read like there was no tomorrow. as for my production and my willingness to experiment, to take risks, to make it up as i went along? it seems all of this and more tanked. "why bother?" i thought. so many wonderful things have already been done, why not just experience (and by way of this, celebrate) all that greatness? in short, playing around, discovering what might be possible just seemed a heck of a lot less fun after reading so many greats.

i should have learned my lesson then.

but i didn't. and so, having become increasingly bothered (and i say "bothered" because to say that i felt "ashamed" is too strong a statement) by my lack of knowledge about other photographers and/or famous photos, i recently began reading books and renting documentaries about photography in general and famous photographers/photographs in particular.

everything was going along swimmingly until the dvd entitled What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann arrived. [for a taste.]

holy smokes! wowsa. all i can say is about the experience of watching the documentary and seeing a sampling of her work is this: there are times when i'm glad to have eyes and there are times when i am really, really, really glad to have eyes. again. holy smokes! after i finished viewing the documentary (and admittedly, there were portions of the documentary that while i could still listen to them, i definitely couldn't watch them. . . not, anyway, after learning of one of the ways the title term "remains" was being used in the film--if you are squeamish about death, corpses and decay, beware!)--but i digress. anyhoot. after i finished viewing the documentary, i remember thinking, once again, "why bother?" i would just as soon look at and think about her work (well most of it, anyway) for the rest of my life. and don't even get me started on her camera and her process. wowsa. the rut began.

but then. as i thought more about her work and its potential for both teaching and inspiring photo hobbyists like myself, what i was most drawn to was her use of (dare i say "command of"?) light. i've always been drawn to well-lit scenes but what she is able to capture, her sense of light play--it's just amazing. i recall at one point in the documentary, she talks about the importance of just getting out there, setting up the camera and just taking another picture. how this is crucial in terms of getting her going again after finishing a series or show. this i think is another incredible lesson she has to share with photo hobbyists. to not let the last success or other people's success keep you from getting out there, setting things up and seeing where it goes.

since i'm readying to move to a new place that has much better light play (or light potential) than my place currently does, i decided to play around a bit with the lighting (as well as the light fixtures) in those spaces. shooting b/w for this seemed to make the most sense (especially after experiencing Mann's work) so i got out my polaroid 220 and my canon ae1 program and started a series of interiors, a sampling of which appears above and below. i don't normally think about taking photos in terms of themes or series (usually, for me, what the photos all have to do with is testing a new camera or documenting a vacation, trip or outing), but this too was something Mann's work reminded me was certainly possible to do, to think about, to play around with.

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