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RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 06:55
The time has come for me to face a panel at my university which will decide if I am ready to enter the final phases of my BFA program.

It calls for me to show my best images and speak to the panel not only about my influences but about what my body of work actually means or is.

Influences are easy. I would say Ansel Adams on the technical side and Robert Adams' work on the changing west is very influential to me.

I am finding it hard to put into words what exactly draws me to photograph that which I do.

Are there any good thought exercises or books to read about discovering the subconscious threads that tie a body of photos together when they aren't necessarily of the same thing?

I have focused on shooting my hometown of homestead fl. A weird little place between the Florida everglades and the hustle and bustle of Miami. A small but rapidly growing city with many of the quirks of a town but none of the conveniences of a city. We just built a movie theatre maybe 5 years ago.

When I am driving along and something catches my attention it isn't usually something I can point out rather usually its something that if I think about too long I can't explain. I have photographed several abandoned NASA sites that exist within the everglades. I have photographed our junkyard, rolling farm land with cell towers poking out.

Now the more I talk about it the more I want to go shoot this place. And I'm starting to wonder if my project is not unlike Robert Adams' the place we live. Obviously to say my work is anywhere near Adams is a gross absurdity but in have to draw similarities for the review.

Noah A
4-Mar-2015, 07:39
Of course only you can say where your influences lie, but while it's difficult to say without seeing the photographs, it sounds like Robert Adams is a good place to start. There is no shortage of photographers who have used the landscape as a way to talk about social issues. I'd look into that idea.

There's no need to limit yourself to photographers with work that looks like yours. For example many photographers working in this genre shoot color. And even if you don't shoot color, you might learn something from looking at their work. I've been influenced by people who do work that is very different from mine, but it still has an influence. There's also no need to limit yourself to photography.

Personally, if I were writing such a statement I'd focus more on conceptual influences instead of technical ones, and if the comparison to Ansel Adams seems absurd to you, it will probably also seem absurd to the panel and it could hurt you.

This may sound strange, but from my experience the actual content of the statement is less important than whether or not the statement is consistent with the photographs. In other words, whatever you write in the statement had better be reflected in the photographs.

Finally, I believe this has been posted here before, but it's well worth reading:

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/on_statements/

Good luck!

John Kasaian
4-Mar-2015, 07:57
How about:
"I want to sell lots of expensive pints so I can become wealthy and endow a chair at my school's Art Dept.?":o

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 07:59
Well honestly in not making art to become wealthy. It would be nice but nor necessary. Unfortunately though humor can help it has to be folded into something that tells them I know what I'm doing.

CropDusterMan
4-Mar-2015, 08:15
Personally, I think you are looking for too much meaning in your images, and trying to take your
artwork too seriously. By no means am I insulting you, I think it's wonderful that you are involved
in photography. But all of this "deep" thinking can really side-track a photographer.

Look at the greats like Adams. Highly technically talented, but not over thinking the image. He
pre-visualized his images, altering the reality to fit his vision through simple means (filtration and exposure) and
absolutely loved being in nature, capturing it's beauty. He was emotional about his subject, I
think it was love of the landscape. He wanted to do it's beauty justice in the finished print.

You mentioned the abandoned NASA sites you've photographed. What hit me when you mentioned them, is that
those sites were part of a massive effort which lead us to go to the moon. Pad 34 at Kennedy. A crumbling concrete structure. This was the site
of a turning point in the American Space Program. On Apollo 1, three Astronauts died on the launchpad during a
fire during a test. If that accident hadn't happened, huge changes in design of the Apollo Capsule may never have been made,
and we may have failed in the challenge Kennedy put to the nation. "I think this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal
of landing a man on the moon, before this decade is out, and returning him safely to the earth". But here they sit in decay.
Why did we go to the moon? Why did our entire country work together for this goal? Answer: Simple. To beat the Russians.
Ultimately, the race to the moon was political. Does anyone today in the young generation care? Unfortunately not.
And look at the political state of the world today...look at the state of NASA today. Americans are getting to the
International space station aboard Russian rockets. Decay decay.

So, if you are looking for meaning, or parallelism in your work...look at the decay of the NASA sites, and how it parallels
the decay of a country and it's ability to focus on a common goal. Impossible in todays America.
Is this too deep? Sure it is. It's simply the opinions of a 45 year old man. In the end, simplicity in an image has
the most impact. A viewer of your work may simply see the crumbling concrete structure that has been printed to perfection
and Selenium toned...or an old fart, might see the relic of a bygone era of greatness. Don't overthink it.

Kirk Gittings
4-Mar-2015, 08:17
Not responding to any of the answers you received so far. You will likely encounter many pretty cynical responses here. Artist statements are the butt of many jokes. I suggest you do some reading perhaps on the websites of artists that you admire.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 08:20
Personally, I think you are looking for too much meaning in your images, and trying to take your
artwork too seriously. By no means am I insulting you, I think it's wonderful that you are involved
in photography. But all of this "deep" thinking can really side-track a photographer.

Look at the greats like Adams. Highly technically talented, but not over thinking the image. He
pre-visualized his images, altering the reality to fit his vision through simple means (filtration and exposure) and
absolutely loved being in nature, capturing it's beauty. He was emotional about his subject, I
think it was love of the landscape. He wanted to do it's beauty justice in the finished print.

You mentioned the abandoned NASA sites you've photographed. What hit me when you mentioned them, is that
those sites were part of a massive effort which lead us to go to the moon. But here they sit in decay.
Why did we go to the moon? Why did our entire country work together for this goal? Answer: To beat the Russians.
Ultimately, the race to the moon was political. Does anyone today in the young generation care? Unfortunately not.
And look at the political state of the world today...look at the state of NASA today. Americans are getting to the
International space station aboard Russian rockets.

So, if you are looking for meaning, or parallelism in your work...look at the decay of the NASA sites, and how it parallels
the decay of a country and it's ability to focus on a common goal. Impossible in todays America.
Is this too deep? Sure it is. It's simply the opinions of a 45 year old man. In the end, simplicity in an image has
the most impact.
Thank you for your insight. I agree with you wholeheartedly but unfortunately one large aspect of today's post modern art academia is spent on writing and explaining.

Just the other day I saw a documentary where Robert Adams quotes Robert Frost when asked about his work and frost answered perfectly : "what? Do you want me to say it worse?"

I do feel there is a strong social commentary being made. Id like to upload some of the images, hopefully I can get a scanner going. I am already getting terrific insight from all of you and maybe this would help further.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 08:22
Not responding to any of the answers you received so far. You will likely encounter many pretty cynical responses here. Artist statements are the butt of many jokes. I suggest you do some reading perhaps on the websites of artists that you admire.
Thank you Kirk. These statements are a necessary evil at my program unfortunately.

Kirk Gittings
4-Mar-2015, 08:27
Back in the early 80's, Robert Adams was my mentor when I was in graduate school. I visited him many times at his home in Colorado and had some marvelous, insightful correspondence with him. From his book "Beauty in Photography" I learned a lot that has influenced me to this day (even though my work looks nothing like his). You might get something from reading it too-I see him as a person who thinks and cares deeply about landscape.

Richard Wasserman
4-Mar-2015, 08:29
I don't have any great insight to offer, but my experience is that while writing a coherent statement can be quite difficult it can also be very useful for the artist. The process can be a wonderful way to clarify in your own mind what it is you want to do and are actually doing. I hope you can avoid "Art Speak" at your school and write in plain language. Read Roger Kimball's "Rape of the Masters" to find out why.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 08:30
Kirk that's a wonderful story. I find it funny you should mention that book among all his other great writings because I am reading it actually right now. He's an absolutely brilliant writer.


130287

CropDusterMan
4-Mar-2015, 08:31
Just my two cents, but the NASA sites today and their crumbling condition...if you're looking for deep meaning or social commentary...
there it is. That, pardon the pun, is concrete social commentary. NASA spent billions to go to the moon. DO you think our overly
"conscious" society would allow that kind of governmental spending today? Hell no. America of the 1950's and 1960's was in a state
of Red Fever. Today's society, on the whole, is just not that bright, nor prone to deep thinking.

That would be a photo essay I would find interesting to visit a gallery to view. Any everyone must forgive my straight to the point
bare bones approach to it. I worked as an assistant in NY for some of the heavy hitter celebrity and commercial photographers. That
can really kill a persons soul, and a desire to put deep thought into things. I never got it back.

Kirk Gittings
4-Mar-2015, 08:31
Thank you Kirk. These statements are a necessary evil at my program unfortunately.

I don't see them as evil at all. I welcome every opportunity to make a presentation about my work as these are opportunities to step back and analyze my thinking and process. Over the years these videos and written statements form a kind of diary that I look back on sometimes with fondness and sometimes with embarrassment but always as a signpost in my journey.

DrTang
4-Mar-2015, 08:37
seems to me you are documenting a place and time in an effort to leave evidence for future archaeologists


that would be about the beginning and end of what I'd say.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 08:39
They hate the word documenting. In a sense all photography is a documentation. If that's all it is then there is no art. If there is more than documentation, they ask what makes it more.

paulr
4-Mar-2015, 08:49
Personally, I think you are looking for too much meaning in your images, and trying to take your
artwork too seriously. By no means am I insulting you, I think it's wonderful that you are involved
in photography. But all of this "deep" thinking can really side-track a photographer.

I would suggest not taking this advice if you want to get taken seriously by your BFA program.

There are a lot of useful ideas out there on artists' statements; almost none of them on internet forums. Sadly.

A good place to start would be Joerg Colberg's essay (http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/05/defining_ones_work/).

You can also find some good examples at this blog (https://artiststatements.wordpress.com).

And of course, terrible examples abound. Avoid emulating them. A good rule of thumb is to edit out anything you couldn't say with a straight face to a friend.

CropDusterMan
4-Mar-2015, 08:54
Ya, definitely don't take my advice. I have to be honest, I have not lived in the world of fine art photography really,
or academia. I have however worked for several prolific photographers in NY such as Albert Watson, and Martin
Schoeller, and it turned me into a technical problem solver...a plumber of photography as I like to call it.

When I worked for Albert Watson, I had cleaned a bathroom in the studio. A while later, Albert came upstairs and asked
in his Scottish accent..."Who cleaned the bathroom"? He loved to fire people for anything. I told him I had.
He took me by the hand and took me to the bathroom and stood me in the doorway. "You missed something".

Fearful for my job, ridiculous as it sounds, I rapidly assessed the environment, and mentally went through a typical bathroom visit.
I came to the stage of hand washing and realized I'd forgotten to replace the liquid soap, and said that to him.

"Jason", he said. "My point in bringing you down here is not to come across like a crazy man and point out such a small thing. You notice your mistake almost immediately, while many others may have stood here in confusion. As a photographer, you need to be able to look through your frame of view and decide sometimes in an instant, what needs to be in the frame and what doesn't. Is an objects presence or lack of going to have an impact on the image you are making?"

We smiled at each other, he then slapped me on the back and walked away. It was one of the greatest lessons I'd ever learned from
a Master. The other was from Arnold Newman. "Just be honest with yourself and your images", he said.

Robert Bowring
4-Mar-2015, 09:03
I think Noah A is on to something. If you write an artist statement make sure it has something to do with the photographs. I have been to too many photography exhibits and have read too many artist statements. I may be somewhat thick but most of the statements do not seem to have anything to do with the photographs. In fact most of them seem to say pretty much the same things. Almost like they all took the same course on writing artist statements. I have always considered photography to be a visual art. It seems to me if you have to explain what the photos are about they are really not working very well. It seems that academia may be more concerned with talking than looking. I have always thought that if I had to write an artist statement it would go something like this: These are photographs of things that I saw and thought were interesting. I hope you like them. Thank you.

Jim Noel
4-Mar-2015, 09:09
Not responding to any of the answers you received so far. You will likely encounter many pretty cynical responses here. Artist statements are the butt of many jokes. I suggest you do some reading perhaps on the websites of artists that you admire.

This is the best answer you have received. After 60 years of teaching, 20 of those teaching photography at a college, I have read many artist's statements. The best have been concise with excellent grammar and spelling. The basic question to answer is, "Why do I photograph." a secondary one is ,"What do I expect to accomplish through my photography."

DrTang
4-Mar-2015, 09:39
They hate the word documenting. In a sense all photography is a documentation. If that's all it is then there is no art. If there is more than documentation, they ask what makes it more.

and that's where they fail as all photography IS just documenting.. and any attempt to make it more is bound to fail

and it doesn't surprise me that they are in a chase their own tail, fools quest

jp
4-Mar-2015, 09:56
If you haven't already, you might read "art and fear" and "the view from the studio door" which are quite inexpensive used and widely available. The authors seem to make art talk and explaining oneself easy.

I haven't written many artist statements. AA is so well known he's apt to be liked for a variety of reasons. I'd be very specific about why I liked AA if I liked AA, or choose an artist still known but known for something very particular.

Jac@stafford.net
4-Mar-2015, 10:05
Like many here, I have read enough artists' statements to cringe upon the prospect of reading yet another. I've also over thirty years in academe which is full of itself. The worst statements are self obsessed, narcissistic, full of self-importance, worked to death.

Given that you are young, new to the field and probably addressing elders more experienced (or hopelessly mired in academe), it is best to be humble; not to speak mainly of yourself. Be an agent to the art. Suggest that your relationship to the art and craft will be evident in your work, or not; that you are learning from failure as well as success. Speak later of your current particulars, themes, projects, if you must.

Do not get technical! One mention of stand development or full-frame integrity or format will bring doom. Do not challenge that which you haven't yet fully explored. That's for experienced philosophers.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 10:16
Thank you all once again. This is the first time I'll be having to explain my work with some sort of real consequence should I not connect what I say to the actual work. All your feedback has been insightful.

djdister
4-Mar-2015, 10:52
Reader's Digest version: explain what you photograph and why, with perhaps more emphasis on the "why"

Andrew O'Neill
4-Mar-2015, 10:52
Well honestly in not making art to become wealthy. It would be nice but nor necessary. Unfortunately though humor can help it has to be folded into something that tells them I know what I'm doing.


I went through what your are going through now. I have never been good at talking about myself or my work. I never liked people who were fluent in "art speak", spouting mostly BS. Be honest. In the end, your work should speak for itself.
Having a few beers with my profs helped a lot, too!!

Iluvmyviewcam
4-Mar-2015, 11:09
Personally, I think you are looking for too much meaning in your images, and trying to take your
artwork too seriously. By no means am I insulting you, I think it's wonderful that you are involved
in photography. But all of this "deep" thinking can really side-track a photographer.

Look at the greats like Adams. Highly technically talented, but not over thinking the image. He
pre-visualized his images, altering the reality to fit his vision through simple means (filtration and exposure) and
absolutely loved being in nature, capturing it's beauty. He was emotional about his subject, I
think it was love of the landscape. He wanted to do it's beauty justice in the finished print.

You mentioned the abandoned NASA sites you've photographed. What hit me when you mentioned them, is that
those sites were part of a massive effort which lead us to go to the moon. Pad 34 at Kennedy. A crumbling concrete structure. This was the site
of a turning point in the American Space Program. On Apollo 1, three Astronauts died on the launchpad during a
fire during a test. If that accident hadn't happened, huge changes in design of the Apollo Capsule may never have been made,
and we may have failed in the challenge Kennedy put to the nation. "I think this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal
of landing a man on the moon, before this decade is out, and returning him safely to the earth". But here they sit in decay.
Why did we go to the moon? Why did our entire country work together for this goal? Answer: Simple. To beat the Russians.
Ultimately, the race to the moon was political. Does anyone today in the young generation care? Unfortunately not.
And look at the political state of the world today...look at the state of NASA today. Americans are getting to the
International space station aboard Russian rockets. Decay decay.

So, if you are looking for meaning, or parallelism in your work...look at the decay of the NASA sites, and how it parallels
the decay of a country and it's ability to focus on a common goal. Impossible in todays America.
Is this too deep? Sure it is. It's simply the opinions of a 45 year old man. In the end, simplicity in an image has
the most impact. A viewer of your work may simply see the crumbling concrete structure that has been printed to perfection
and Selenium toned...or an old fart, might see the relic of a bygone era of greatness. Don't overthink it.

Art devotees / intellectuals love overthinking!

Meatyard worked a lot in his home town. Check him out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Eugene_Meatyard

I don't like artists' statements. Nor do I like naming my pix. I don't I like it when people ask me what my pix means.

Burt Glinn:

The problem about writing about photography is that taking pictures seems so simple. Of course it is not, but explanations why it is not have led to some very defensive, somber, arcane a pretensions prose. Pretentiousness is more harm to good photography than automated exposure.

As a doc photog if I have to explain my pix too much it is a failure. Although sometimes a little backstory may be needed for the less than obvious pix. Since I deal with many museums and institutions they like to hear something along those lines so I oblige with a statement, naming pix and the like. Sure, you can get by with 'Untitled #1','Untitled #2' 'Untitled #18' etc. But if you have thousands of prints out in nearly a hundred institutions like I do then it is very tough with all that untitled work.

See if anything in my bio can help you with drafting your statement. I refined it over time, so just start writing one and refine it.

http://biographyofdanieldteolijr.tumblr.com/

I don't keep records of when my pix are shown. I'm not into this for making $. But for the rest of you it is good to list your exhibition dates. I've only had a few exhibitors anyway and none were one man. My efforts are placed in obtaining the exalted status of being part of the permanent collection.

Here are 2 photogs long dead that I respected. When I don't know what to say I sometimes quote the old masters. Read up on photogs you admire.

Ernst Hass

"There are black and white snobs, as well as colour snobs. Because of their inability to use both well, they act on the defensive and create camps. We should never judge a photographer by what film he uses- only by how he uses it."


Burt Glinn...written in 1980/81

"Our world is so flooded with photographic images that when we preconceive we end up, probably unwittingly, taking pictures of pictures we have seen."

Both quotes from the 1981 book World Photography by Bryn Campbell.

Good luck!

CropDusterMan
4-Mar-2015, 11:38
I used to love it when "intellectuals" would go into endless analyzation of a specific photographers gallery images who I'd been working for.
They went into great detail about how the image captured the essence of this or that, about evoking emotion and the artists intent etc etc.
Wonderful as their imagery and diction was, it was nothing more than a bunch of drivel. Opinion.

Some photographers talk endlessly about their work, it's painful. And most of the time it's mere self inflation. Jim Nachtwey on the other hand...one
of the greatest war photographers of his generation...getting anything out of him is like pulling teeth. His work stands alone. Right there and in your face.
John Szarkowski once commented on the work of Ansel Adams, saying that upon viewing one of Adams photos, the printing and capture...
you could almost tell the weather...time, season, temperature and humidity of his images. Ultimately, the images speak for themselves, and
endless talk and analyzation almost does them an injustice.

One thing I will say, I have really enjoyed everyones input on this thread....got me to "thinking"! LOL.

paulr
4-Mar-2015, 11:46
I really don't understand why people conflate all thinking with bad thinking.

If we conflated all photography with bad photography, we'd just go home and give up.

Jody_S
4-Mar-2015, 11:48
If they are against the 'documentary' part of photography, and what you have been doing is essentially capturing the feel of a place, then I'm going to go completely off-the-wall and suggest you watch the movie Vernon, Florida (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083281/), by Errol Morris. Read up on how he came to make the movie. He didn't try to document Vernon, Fl so much as he used Vernon as the raw material to create something that would capture the attention for the duration of a movie. He was extraordinarily successful, IMHO, I was spellbound when I watched it.

DrTang
4-Mar-2015, 12:15
Vernon Fl is an odd movie as he first set out to 'document' that areas peculiar business of lopping off parts of ones body to collect industrial accident payouts.. but when he started..the locals DID NOT LIKE THAT..so he turned his movie cameras into other areas of the place

for more fun: Gates of Heaven

Jody_S
4-Mar-2015, 14:42
Vernon Fl is an odd movie as he first set out to 'document' that areas peculiar business of lopping off parts of ones body to collect industrial accident payouts.. but when he started..the locals DID NOT LIKE THAT..so he turned his movie cameras into other areas of the place

for more fun: Gates of Heaven

Of course I loved Gates also, but that one is an actual documentary. Vernon Fl arguably isn't. It's more of a stream-of-consciousness rambling from different somewhat colorful characters strung together into a portrait of a weird little town. It's much more modernist than Gates of Heaven. A film version of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but without the journey. And with less sympathetic characters.

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 15:00
Guys I am getting some replies about why artist statements aren't relevant or necessary but please let me remind you this isn't something I have generated myself. This is a requirement that I have to fulfill believe me I find artists statements sometimes very pretentious and completely lost from the work this is something I will avoid. But more importantly this is a requirement I must complete, a task, a chore if you must

Winger
4-Mar-2015, 18:44
A few years ago, I had to write an artist statement for my photos that made it into a juried group exhibition. This - http://www.artbusiness.com/artstate.html - was the site that helped me the most in writing what I used.

Kirk Gittings
4-Mar-2015, 18:50
I really don't understand why people conflate all thinking with bad thinking.

If we conflated all photography with bad photography, we'd just go home and give up.

ditto. Reminds me of the people who always want to compare the worst digital photography with the best traditional photography-easy argument to win.

Kirk Gittings
4-Mar-2015, 18:53
Guys I am getting some replies about why artist statements aren't relevant or necessary but please let me remind you this isn't something I have generated myself. This is a requirement that I have to fulfill believe me I find artists statements sometimes very pretentious and completely lost from the work this is something I will avoid. But more importantly this is a requirement I must complete, a task, a chore if you must

It might be easier to deal with this offline. If you want send me a draft and a couple of relevant images, I would be happy to give you some thoughts. I take these seriously. Get my email off my website if you want.

John Kasaian
4-Mar-2015, 18:55
I'd give the phrase "...and endow a chair at my school's Art Dept." a little more consideration.
Can't hurt. Might help ;)

RodinalDuchamp
4-Mar-2015, 20:13
It might be easier to deal with this offline. If you want send me a draft and a couple of relevant images, I would be happy to give you some thoughts. I take these seriously. Get my email off my website if you want.
Kirk your offer is gracious and humbling. It will take me at least a week to gather my thoughts cohesively I think. I'd be honored to receive the help.

Michael Wesik
5-Mar-2015, 07:12
Guys I am getting some replies about why artist statements aren't relevant or necessary but please let me remind you this isn't something I have generated myself. This is a requirement that I have to fulfill believe me I find artists statements sometimes very pretentious and completely lost from the work this is something I will avoid. But more importantly this is a requirement I must complete, a task, a chore if you must

I haven't read through everyone's responses but having gone through this same thing myself in art school and professionally, I've found that focusing on process and the significance of it carries more weight than an a didactic that revolves around explaining meaning and influences. Your pictures are simply the physical manifestation of your process; so it matters less what they are and more why they are, why you made the decisions you made, why you anchored yourself to certain influences, why you're using a specific approach to making pictures, why that's of significance to you, etc.

Artist statements are a fundamental part of the art world, period. They project and exhibit refinement. It's great that you're getting this experience because it's really difficult to flush out these kinds of ideas. An artist statement can take years to distill. The way I always approached this stuff was to just start writing down everything in a stream of consciousness and then edit, edit, edit. You'll find that your ideas will evolve as you move along.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!

Michael

Randy Moe
5-Mar-2015, 11:24
I read all the great replies and Kirk has made a gracious offer. He knows this sort of thing and is an active photography teacher at my alma mater, SAIC.

The only advice I offer is, your Artist Statement goes hand in hand with your ART resume, which is not your Employment resume. Perhaps that's obvious...

Both your Art statement and Art resume will change over time. I suggest you keep them all in a secure file. Delete nothing, start a new Doc.

I found I needed to customize both my art statement and resume for each usage. As time passed, old ones are changed and rebuilt.

I suggest titling both with the date of submission, exact purpose and institution. 'Save as'!

You need an exhaustive resume of ALL your artwork, so you can use that list to fit a specific purpose.

You may rewrite 1000 times, but deadline will come and there you are.

Never miss a deadline.

Michael Wesik
6-Mar-2015, 07:41
Completely agree....tailoring your artist statement and CV to a specific project and audience is really important.

Robert Langham
9-Mar-2015, 15:52
I wouldn't mention any photographer, but instead talk about the subject matter that directly inspires you to get out a camera. If pressed, I'd list books, painters, caligraphy, music, geography, running, hiking, dreams, frustrations, dead ends. -But not another photographer as influence. I'd rather claim being influenced by stray beggars with signs at the intersections. Need Help. God Bless. Broke down. Man sick. (They are following me...ahead of me...with Messages! Everywhere!) Gas Money. Will Work. Stranded. American Patriot.

Other photographers have NOTHING for you. Nothing. If they are really good, they influence you, calling like sirens to wreck on the rocks. If they are bad, it's a waste of time sidetracking or feeling smug. The subject matter. Being alive. That's the road ahead. That's where the knowlege is. Get a death grip on the source, not another persons perception of it.

Start with a stupid idea and keep mashing on it. If you are in the desert, recount the time you were so perception-frustrated you picked up a fist-sized rock, clonked yourself on the forehead, and stood there licking off the blood, the dust, the salt and selenium...and trying to get the taste of the land on your tongue. You were in the deep woods once and you ate.....dirt. And bark. Seeking knowledge. You'd give ANYTHING. Anything. You are willing to pay the ferryman. Just let me cross over.

Or the time you wandered shirtless up the edge of the salt marsh in florida in a light rain watching the mosquitos land and pierce and suck and fly off into the mangroves....wishing you could know what they know. Get a little artistic on them. I rolled up the snake skin and slept with it in my pocket. Seeking. Searching. Praying. Let the scales fall from my eyes.

A Raven spoke. A Coyote stopped. And looked back. A bug pointed the way. You were alone. Then you caught a whiff of a scent on the wind. Empty handed, without water you crossed the canyon to see how big it was compared to your body. To see how your feet and heartbeat fit the land. You climbed the far ridge and there was a dry rabbit bone. Now you knew something.

Ever had that dream where you knew the secret and true name of everyone at the party? Names they didn't know themselves? Or the one where you KNEW how to make a perfect image? (My GOD....it was SO simple! Then I woke up.)

Tell them a story. A poltergiest follows you through the leaves in a thick forest. You can hear it following as the leaves crackle at the far edge of your acuity. Alarmed, you want to know WHY its following. Then it occurs to you: It wants to see what I will do! What WILL I do?

Hope this helps. It's a great thing, putting words with ideas with images. I'd be very excited. This weekend I talked with Roy Flukinger as we went through some recent work. I told him a few titles that I was using, to just bend the viewer a little bit in the direction I though helpful. I told him the titles were like the second line of a haiku- pointing back and forward at the same time. Refracting off the image like a glimmer of light. All of a sudden three new and really great titles popped into my head. Out of the ether. The more ideas you have the more ideas you WILL have. Just start with a stupid idea and get cracking! Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. At first.

Best. Its sitting there in front of you right now....right up those footprints in the sand. When you find that dry rabbit bone, pick it up. Then CAREFULLY put it EXACTLY back and walk away knowing something.

jnanian
9-Mar-2015, 17:12
without going into format and technique and media, it sounds like you are trying to create a sense of place with your photography.
you are photographing things within a "x mile radius" where you live, things that may have a historic significance, or a significance
within the community where you live.

i hate to suggest you read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Register_of_Historic_Places
but it might help you think about what you are doing ...

good luck
john