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Shutter20
21-Mar-2017, 09:59
Hello,

I have been lurking around on this site for a while, learning a tonne of information that has helped me with my large format photography and I thought this might be an interesting question.

Personally I get a lot of inspiration for my photography from watching movies, analyzing their compositions, style, light, color etc. to create ideas for my own projects. So I'm wondering if any of you have any directors or films that inspire your creative endeavors and why? I also draw inspiration from painters for the same reasons.

Recently I've taken to the films directed by Roy Andersson, his "Living" trilogy specifically. His use of ambitiously constructed set pieces, his characteristically flat and soft lighting style, his choices for composition, his color schemes, and his use of deep depth of field all combine to create imagery that seems more akin to painting than film.

I'm also wondering if anyone here might have any advice on how to translate this look to still photography, specifically how one would manage to get such a deep depth of field on something like a 4x5 camera. (I'm just starting with large format and learning what combinations of movements can accomplish)

Looking forward to your thoughts and would love to know what alternative media people here draw inspiration from!

IanG
21-Mar-2017, 11:27
Never heard of Roy Anderson, however a Google search (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=roy+anderson+living+trilogy&client=firefox-b&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiGzMy2m-jSAhXPFsAKHUY4DR0Q_AUICigD&biw=1024&bih=627) indicates natural lighting probably a WA lens, 90mm on a 5x4.

Ian

jp
21-Mar-2017, 11:53
Welcome!

I like older styles of artistic LF photography, so for painters, Whistler was massively influential around the turn of the last century to LF photographers.

For older films..
Ralph Steiner's H2O and Mechanical Principals for abstract B&W style

chassis
21-Mar-2017, 13:50
I am inspired by, and learn from, other media, specifically other photographers and early Netherlandish painters. Namely, Annie Leibovitz, Philippe Halsman, Christopher Broadbent, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden. The list of names changes and evolves over time.

Btw where is Christopher Broadbent? Haven't seen him on this site and his website seems a bit dormant.

John Kasaian
22-Mar-2017, 20:24
For film makers, Fritz Lang and Howard Hawks.
For painters (and this rather recently) Impressionist Cameron Smith.

EdSawyer
23-Mar-2017, 06:15
Any mention of film making would be amiss if not mentioning Wes Anderson: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0027572/

Particularly stuff like The Grand Budapest Hotel - you could pause that movie at any point, and the resulting still image looks like a nice formal large-format composition.

-Ed

Jody_S
23-Mar-2017, 07:33
Anything by Terrence Malick or Stanley Kubric does it for me.

I did stop photography completely for several years to study Canadian landscape painting, when I switched from animal photography to whatever it is I'm doing now.

Mark Sampson
23-Mar-2017, 08:06
I work part-time for the Phillips Collection, "America's first museum of modern art". Being surrounded by masterworks of painting and sculpture (not to mention a growing collection of photography) certainly keeps me inspired, or at least gives me food for thought.

austin granger
24-Mar-2017, 10:28
Ed above beat me to it, but Wes Anderson definitely springs to mind. It seems to me that he thinks like a photographer, by which I mean that every frame in his films is consciously and meticulously composed.

Michael R
24-Mar-2017, 11:29
I've been inspired by miscellaneous shots from all sorts of movies, and work by certain film makers - in particular Stanley Kubrick. I've also been inspired a great deal by a variety of painters/paintings. Christopher Pratt, for example, but lots of others. I steal bits and pieces from anything I like to look at.

Mark Sawyer
24-Mar-2017, 11:41
Probably the most beautiful classic b/w cinematography would be Woody Allen's Manhattan, shot by Gordon Willis. Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (cinematography by John Alcott) is another you should see. And, of course, we can all agree that the most inspiring movie of all time is Walt Disney's Peter Pan... :rolleyes:

That said, I tend to be more inspired by thoughts of an old girlfriend, something I've read, or a song on the radio. If anyone's photography is inspired only by other people's photography, (even be it cinematography), wider horizons are needed...

John Kasaian
27-Mar-2017, 06:27
Memory, oddly enough. Recollecting what has been seen and remembered in the past kind of tweaks my imagination and let's me contemplate what is to become.
Also music, as Mark Sawyer attests. The two tend to go together for me.

hornstenj
20-Aug-2018, 11:02
Hello,

..
Looking forward to your thoughts and would love to know what alternative media people here draw inspiration from!

I’m lucky. My mother is a printmaker, my father a ceramist. I grew up in a family that celebrates art, and I’ve always drawn. In my bag is journal, pencils, and crayons.

“Where did you get your imagination? If you had to guess what would you say?” -Lynda Barry, Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor
I posted the above to a different thread expecting them to look it up. Perhaps this time a
link to book.
Syllabus | https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/syllabus

with a YouTube
Linda Barry Forward Motion (5min) https://youtu.be/FhOU6HUjL6Y

and expanding with another youtube (https://youtu.be/B-uZiszbo7M) learn something hard in 3 weeks.

Harder to do is sustain, growing beyond the how and where. I try to gather the good around me.
most important is avoiding the toxic influence. when being around those who aren’t artists, or able to live with their creativity fully engaged it becomes difficult to avoid the toxic or destructive —only way I know of achieving this is by disengaging in the way of Krav — principles not technique

###

Alan Klein
20-Aug-2018, 17:12
I think watching movies over the years has impressed my brain with similarly framing my photos and videos clips.

John Kasaian
21-Aug-2018, 07:52
Classical literature is another. A 3,000+ year "library" of emotions and themes to draw on.
While available on -line, it's no longer deemed important by educators and school boards, so students generally aren't aware.
I think that is why there is so much lack luster Art and Philosophy.
People are drawing on severely limited emotions and themes that are "in" style
My 2-centavos anyway.

Leszek Vogt
21-Aug-2018, 14:19
I'm with Mark on Gordon Willis. One of the lesser known films (also w/Woody Allen) was the Interiors, that he worked on. But, there is nearly endless string of films that one can pluck lots of great ideas from: framing/composition, lighting, symbolism, specific use of film stock, etc. Ha, my pickup would sag if I put all the American Cinematographers on its bed, that I happen to have :>). There are also other places to look, such as magazines, ads, photo books, museums, galleries....see what various painters are doing, etc. Indeed, we stand on the shoulders of others....

Les

John Kasaian
21-Aug-2018, 15:26
I'm with Mark on Gordon Willis. One of the lesser known films (also w/Woody Allen) was the Interiors, that he worked on. But, there is nearly endless string of films that one can pluck lots of great ideas from: framing/composition, lighting, symbolism, specific use of film stock, etc. Ha, my pickup would sag if I put all the American Cinematographers on its bed, that I happen to have :>). There are also other places to look, such as magazines, ads, photo books, museums, galleries....see what various painters are doing, etc. Indeed, we stand on the shoulders of others....

Les

I certainly found inspiration at the exhibit Impressionists on the Water

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQkUgaKauxg

jim10219
24-Aug-2018, 14:33
I was a painter before I started photography, so naturally most of my inspiration for photography comes from paintings. I'm actually surprised by how similar they could be, but how different they actually are. For instance, you rarely see multiple subjects in a photograph outside of journalism or a group portrait. But it's quite common in painting.

peter schrager
24-Aug-2018, 17:23
I’m lucky. My mother is a printmaker, my father a ceramist. I grew up in a family that celebrates art, and I’ve always drawn. In my bag is journal, pencils, and crayons.

“Where did you get your imagination? If you had to guess what would you say?” -Lynda Barry, Syllabus: Notes From an Accidental Professor
I posted the above to a different thread expecting them to look it up. Perhaps this time a
link to book.
Syllabus | https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/syllabus

with a YouTube
Linda Barry Forward Motion (5min) https://youtu.be/FhOU6HUjL6Y

and expanding with another youtube (https://youtu.be/B-uZiszbo7M) learn something hard in 3 weeks.

Harder to do is sustain, growing beyond the how and where. I try to gather the good around me.
most important is avoiding the toxic influence. when being around those who aren’t artists, or able to live with their creativity fully engaged it becomes difficult to avoid the toxic or destructive —only way I know of achieving this is by disengaging in the way of Krav — principles not technique

###
Thanks for the link!!

Alan Klein
24-Aug-2018, 21:01
I was a painter before I started photography, so naturally most of my inspiration for photography comes from paintings. I'm actually surprised by how similar they could be, but how different they actually are. For instance, you rarely see multiple subjects in a photograph outside of journalism or a group portrait. But it's quite common in painting.

How are photos and paintings similar and dissimilar? Why do you think there are differences regarding the number of subjects?

jp
25-Aug-2018, 06:51
How are photos and paintings similar and dissimilar? Why do you think there are differences regarding the number of subjects?

Some painters commonly consider photography inferior for portraying color and light as they see it because of their own limitations in photography. The camera is a mental crutch so they can photograph the things needed to finish the painting later. Some photographers, of course, have worked around those limitations. It's a skill and seeing problem not unlike painting.

Some painters, like LF photographers, consider normal photography inferior because it's comparatively easy and low financial risk or not historically proven.

BS meter starts bouncing around in both cases.

I would say some photographs do not have a subject in the normal sense and that's OK too. I think style is borrowed both ways between painting and photography. Perhaps 120 years ago, much was borrowed from painting. Now, I see much photographic language in new paintings.

tgtaylor
25-Aug-2018, 09:10
How are photos and paintings similar and dissimilar? Why do you think there are differences regarding the number of subjects?

I'm way behind on this but see the post on William James Stillman on my blog: I'm in the mist of tracing the history and influences of American landscape photography.


Thomas

jim10219
25-Aug-2018, 22:09
How are photos and paintings similar and dissimilar? Why do you think there are differences regarding the number of subjects?

The similarities and dissimilarities are too numerous to list. And I was referring to averages across the two mediums. You could always find examples that deviate. For example, a gum bichromate is created more like a photograph, but out of materials that more closely relate to paintings. It spans the divide between the two.

As for the differences regarding the number of subjects, it’s not uncommon for a painting to tell a story from multiple viewpoints at once. For instance, “The Tribute Money” by Massacio shows Peter three times. It tells a story at three different points in time and space, each with a new representation of Peter. This fluidity of time and space is common in paintings, yet in photography, it’s quite rare.

Of course one can always point to examples that run counter to my arguement, but I’m confident that if you were to average them out, you’d find a higher percentage of multiple subjects in paintings than in photographs.

Another common difference is surface texture and color. Paintings will often be much more liberal with their colors and surface textures. Impasto, is very difficult to achieve in photography (though carbon transfer prints offer a possible counter arguement), but it’s a common feature in many modern styles. Painters will also often take greater liberty with color than photographers. Something might be represented in a false color in a painting, or composed of strange colors not actually present in the scene while maintaining a full color range. For example, study the underpaintings of just about any one of Rembrandt’s portraits. There are usually many colors such as purples, blues, pinks, and yellows that you wouldn’t actually find on a person. But by his deft use of these colors, he gives the skin a greater sense of realism and sense of life, while simultaneously making them technically less colored like real skin.

Another difference is abstraction. It’s rare in photographs to the point that some people have argued that true abstraction in a photograph is impossible. I wouldn’t go that far, in fact I think you could make a truly abstract photo by just about anyone’s definition by avoiding a lens and playing with the developing chemicals. Justine Varga made quite a stir when she won $20k for a photo made from spit and scratches. Though she claimed it was a photo of her grandmother, so it might not be a true abstract photo (depending on your definition). But it proves the possibility. Abstract paintings, in my opinion, aren’t rare enough.

The lists of similarities and differences go on and on.

So my point isn’t that one is superior to the other, or that there are things that can be accomplished in one that are impossible in the other, but rather that the two are often approached differently. That’s why I often like to look towards painters for inspiration rather than other photographers, because, to me, it offers a more unique perspective on the medium. I didn’t mean it as an indictment on photography, but rather just to say that I try to make photographs that are more unique than the majority of photographs already out there, and following what other photographers have done before me makes that goal more difficult to achieve. That’s just my personal approach and style.

Alan Klein
26-Aug-2018, 04:03
Jim Thanks for your thoughts. I think photography is limited because you're capturing a slice of "reality" that's already been created rather than creating it from start. Which reminds me of the difference I once read between artists and photographers. An artist starts with a blank canvas and fills in only the things that will make his picture "pop". Whereas the photographer starts with a messy and completed canvas and has to figure out how to remove the stuff that weakens his image. In many respects, it's harder to get a photo correct and "great" than a painting, leaving aside the ability to paint, which I don't have.

jim10219
26-Aug-2018, 15:28
Jim Thanks for your thoughts. I think photography is limited because you're capturing a slice of "reality" that's already been created rather than creating it from start. Which reminds me of the difference I once read between artists and photographers. An artist starts with a blank canvas and fills in only the things that will make his picture "pop". Whereas the photographer starts with a messy and completed canvas and has to figure out how to remove the stuff that weakens his image. In many respects, it's harder to get a photo correct and "great" than a painting, leaving aside the ability to paint, which I don't have.
I absolutely agree. I’ve been painting for about 20 years now and have only been doing serious photography for the last 3. My fiancé introduced me to photography (she’s a photographer) and what drew me to photography was the ability to sell prints for far less money than paintings. Some of my paintings have cost me over $300 in materials, and I may spend 6 months working on one (a layer of oil paint can take a long time to dry and drying agents can change the look). So that’s a huge investment and it can be difficult finding a buyer (especially in this area) at the prices I must charge. Photography gives me the ability to still create visual art works, but with the ability to print and reprint photos with relative ease and speed, so I can charge a lot less and sell a lot more.

And I have found photography to be much more difficult than painting for precisely the reasons you mentioned. If you don’t like the light or find an element distracting in a painting, you simply change it. With photography, it’s a lot more difficult to alter the scene. You can do a lot in the computer, but inkjet prints just aren’t as much fun, and the skill with one isn’t very well appreciated by potential buyers.

Of course the other down side to photography is everyone thinks they can do it, and most people don’t know enough to know what a good photo even looks like, let alone how to take one. With painting, it’s the opposite. Everyone says they can’t draw and seems to think you have to be born with the talent. They don’t understand it’s a learned skill and virtually anyone can draw well, assuming they’re willing to put the time and effort into it. In both situations, the general public just doesn’t know enough to know what they don’t know. And that’s the real problem with art. The general public can only recognize technical skill, and that gets mistaken for good art, when good art goes far beyond just technical skill.

LabRat
26-Aug-2018, 15:47
Jim Thanks for your thoughts. I think photography is limited because you're capturing a slice of "reality" that's already been created rather than creating it from start. Which reminds me of the difference I once read between artists and photographers. An artist starts with a blank canvas and fills in only the things that will make his picture "pop". Whereas the photographer starts with a messy and completed canvas and has to figure out how to remove the stuff that weakens his image. In many respects, it's harder to get a photo correct and "great" than a painting, leaving aside the ability to paint, which I don't have.

More simply is that artist/painters etc start with a single line, and add more lines start to create forms, and a drawing becomes more and more complicated until it reaches the point of chaos... Photography starts with chaos, and we reduce this down to lines that are "compositional" and decide how minimal or complex we want it to be...

This is something I figured out many years ago, when I restarted photography after a break in my teens... I had taken the only art class available in the area, that was a fashion figure drawing class... I noticed a reverse in the approach...

Other training was engineering drafting where the concern was the skeleton of the object... That taught me to see the "skeleton" of things, consider them form, find the axis that they can be "rotated", and considered the "flesh" and surfaces secondary to it...

Then I found that light can reveal these forms...

Steve K

jp
26-Aug-2018, 19:18
Another difference is abstraction. It’s rare in photographs to the point that some people have argued that true abstraction in a photograph is impossible. I wouldn’t go that far, in fact I think you could make a truly abstract photo by just about anyone’s definition by avoiding a lens and playing with the developing chemicals. Justine Varga made quite a stir when she won $20k for a photo made from spit and scratches. Though she claimed it was a photo of her grandmother, so it might not be a true abstract photo (depending on your definition). But it proves the possibility. Abstract paintings, in my opinion, aren’t rare enough.


If you're interested in abstract photography, it's out there and it's a pretty big rabbit hole to follow.
Coburn (vortographs), Stieglizt, the dadaism movement, surrealism, Siskind, and many tamer photographers with abstract themes now..
Many abstract photos do not look like abstract photos. Abstract paintings stand out and are plentiful as you mention.

Alan Klein
26-Aug-2018, 20:19
... And that’s the real problem with art. The general public can only recognize technical skill, and that gets mistaken for good art, when good art goes far beyond just technical skill.

Hope you don't mind me picking your brain. But, what beyond technical skill makes good art and how do you apply that to your photography?

germansaram
31-Aug-2018, 01:47
...
I would say some photographs do not have a subject in the normal sense and that's OK too. I think style is borrowed both ways between painting and photography. Perhaps 120 years ago, much was borrowed from painting. Now, I see much photographic language in new paintings.

Would you like to explain or give an example how photographic language is in paintings? Is it also about the chaos?

jp
1-Sep-2018, 07:43
Would you like to explain or give an example how photographic language is in paintings? Is it also about the chaos?

I don't have a complete answer, but perhaps a little bit now and a little bit later....

In western art history, perspective is something that changes slowly and can almost be used to date a work or style. In the 1500's things started moving from a flat perspective to a 3d style and have become more varied in the last 100+ years. I think painting has adopted from photography the fisheye look and the telephoto look. One could argue the telephoto look is influenced by Japanese art, but we've had that popularly since the late 1800's and the telephoto look did not take off then. I think when it's used now, viewers associate it with a photographic style more than art history. Doesn't matter as much what the artist though but they could also be equally influenced by telephoto style of perspective from watching sports, nature photos, etc..

Aerial views are something photography explored quicker and more thoroughly than painting. I think painting based on aerial views is derivative of photography (and that's OK) People like Coburn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alvin_Langdon_Coburn_-_House_of_a_Thousand_Windows_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg and the very early modern photographers like aerial views in the early part of the 20th century. In the late part of the 19th century and into the early 20th it became popular for factories to create birds eye view for calendars, letterhead, etc.. That quickly became a photographic process for practical reasons https://web.wpi.edu/academics/library/collections/woodbury/Woodbury.PDF (sort of the opposite viewpoint of Lewis Hine)

Stieglitz was amongst several making abstract photos of clouds; O'Keefe eventually painted clouds downwards, picking up abstract subject matter common to photography and the birds eye view. https://imgcs.artprintimages.com/img/print/print/georgia-o-keeffe-sky-above-the-clouds-1962-1963_a-l-1248114-0.jpg

Locally we have artists like Eric Hopkins very successfully painting local scenes with fisheye and telephoto aerial perspectives, something not common in traditional art history. I'd say it builds on photography and what people understand from aerial photographs both artistic and mapping. Most people appreciating this sort of thing do not regularly fly these locations. As a photographic style it's becoming immensely more popular with drone footage. Painting can only borrow from that and has a challenge to improve upon it.
https://www.pinterest.com/garveyk413/eric-hopkins/

I don't have any solid ideas worked out about chaos. It's common to both photography and painting and could have developed simultaneously in the styles making up early modern. To what extent it is symbiotic, I'm not sure, but it's possible. I think the well known masters of showing chaos in photography and painting are from different planets... I particularly like Eliot Porter's way of handling it in photography. I have a friend who practices non objective painting who can also pursue chaos in photography well too.

jnanian
1-Sep-2018, 15:54
<snip snip snip >

....

Looking forward to your thoughts and would love to know what alternative media people here draw inspiration from!


hi shutter20
im inspired by pretty much anything done between around 1912 and the mid 1950s
from russian constructivists to motherwell to the le corbusier ...
have fun!
john

Jac@stafford.net
1-Sep-2018, 15:58
Ingmar Bergman in my youth, and lingering in my vision for another thirty years.
.

erian
17-Sep-2018, 12:33
I wouldn’t go that far, in fact I think you could make a truly abstract photo by just about anyone’s definition by avoiding a lens and playing with the developing chemicals. Justine Varga made quite a stir when she won $20k for a photo made from spit and scratches.

I am not sure that I can consider this work as a photograph. A photographic image (or even painting) perhaps but not a photograph. I think that accepting this work as a photograph will make by extension anything on the photosensitive material, that we would conventionally not consider as such, a photograph. For example digital art on the photographic paper would become a photograph.

I think that there should be some form of the camera present to make a photograph.

This of course does not mean that direct manipulation of the photosensitive material could not stand as a separate form of the art.

jnanian
17-Sep-2018, 18:01
I am not sure that I can consider this work as a photograph. A photographic image (or even painting) perhaps but not a photograph. I think that accepting this work as a photograph will make by extension anything on the photosensitive material, that we would conventionally not consider as such, a photograph. For example digital art on the photographic paper would become a photograph.

I think that there should be some form of the camera present to make a photograph.

This of course does not mean that direct manipulation of the photosensitive material could not stand as a separate form of the art.

i had the same problem in the 90s,
prints on KODAK PAPER weren't "photography"

ticked me off so much i ended up part owning an art gallery with a buch of other people
where they were interested more in the final product than labels...

John Kasaian
18-Sep-2018, 06:55
A fun experiment is to use your photographic vision to inspire other media!
Go on a short outing armed with only a small sketchbook and pencil and instead of taking snapshots with a camera, sketch the same scenes/situations using a minimalist drawing style.
A eight or twelve or so of these sketches can give you insight on how you notice things.

erian
18-Sep-2018, 16:19
i had the same problem in the 90s,
prints on KODAK PAPER weren't "photography"

ticked me off so much i ended up part owning an art gallery with a buch of other people
where they were interested more in the final product than labels...

I do not think that it is the same issue but I would be still interesting to know more about this story.

jp
18-Sep-2018, 18:59
I'm guessing Kodak Paper of the 90's was perceived as for Kodak moments and not art... The good old rich Kodak papers of previous generations were gone. Kodak paper in the early 90's was commonly RC VC paper with Kodak written diagonally on the back. Kodak was going down hill in their paper business. They made more and more crappy consumer films like APS and disc. They ended their paper business. For a long time they were merely suppliers of a few good films to pros while spinning wheels elsewhere in business. Ilford had clean white boxes, like we expect from Apple now. Ilford had artistic photos on every box label. It didn't have a manufacturer's name on the back. It was a carte blanche literally so we could buy it and do so artistically. That's my experience from the 90's as an amateur photographer.

jnanian
18-Sep-2018, 19:49
I do not think that it is the same issue but I would be still interesting to know more about this story.

kind of the same but different. you don't consider her cameraless work to be photography
i was schlepping around similar work to galleries in the early 90s
back then the galleries didn't really know what they were, and told me they weren't photographs ..
( probably because they weren't landscapes &c made with a camera ... )

not sure how that is different than what you said ...

for me at least
your definition of photography
is a bit rigid ... but to each their own



I'm guessing Kodak Paper of the 90's was perceived as for Kodak moments and not art...

naaah it wasn't the paper, they just didn't "get it" and thought i was passing off something made with ink or paint as photography ....
the kodak single weight fb paper was really beautiful stuff..., i was too broke to get blue box oriental