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To be in conversation about any of the arts always prompts the artist within to show up. This blog is simply to be in conversation about the art of photography.

Welcome and join in at anytime!

Light and Shadow

June 12, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Light and Shadow

I once wrote, “If you deny the shadow in life, you are only living one-half of your life.” I find photography or any art medium subject to this same insight. The play of light and shadow, their discourse so to speak, is critical to communicating thought, emotion, and/or story. In the book ‘Reverence’, Paul Woodruff wrote, “We know where light is coming from by looking at the shadows.”

What is prompting the shadows in our personal, spiritual, social/political, and physical lives? And, then we may ask, where is the light coming from? Light is always there, but from what source? Are shadow and light on speaking terms? I believe that the photographic magic of masters like Adams, Cunningham, Brandt, and Weston was found in how they made sure that light and shadow played well together.

Today the dark times of our economic, social, spiritual, and political lives may not in be any direr than other times in history. However, one must ask is the play of light and shadow working well? Polarizations are separating communities in strained and sometimes dangerous ways.  With these thoughts in mind, is this a time in which photographers and other artists could take advantage of how the light and shadow life today can be visualized?

For example, a new photograph of mine would communicate clearly a growing fear of how light (in the form of hopefulness) is being suppressed by shadowy ideologies? Is there a subject, approach, or style that would communicate this growing sense of fear? What kind and level of light would come through if any and, from what source?

I know one thing for sure, the photograph (if successful) would share a deep foreboding. The shadows, more than likely, would dominate. And, they would capture how I sometimes feel lately, overpowered and lost as to what one can do to bring more light into being.

On the other hand, I might take the path of this adage, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” With this more positive outlook the photograph would have light clearly prevalent and even diffusing the blacks and shadows.

One of the reasons I so like doing what is called light painting is that I practice bringing light into a completely dark situation. I feel the responsibility of applying just the right amount of light in manifesting at least one positive aspect or character of the subject. To at least bring enough and the right kind of light into illumination even though the negative space darkness persists.

On a personal level, what frames your life? Is it a frame of fear and foreboding? Or, is it held by a frame of some position or way of being in life? Can it be filled with just the right amount of light to illuminate one’s most noble self? What kind of frame holds your life and can it be changed to allow the best light in?


Second Language

March 01, 2018  •  1 Comment

Second Language

Master photographer Paul Strand October 16, 1890 – March 31, 1976, chose to go to France in exile because of the anti-socialist McCarthyism in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. This was due to his socialist orientations that appeared unaccepted at that time. Living in France without begin able to speak French caused him to use his photography to speak…to communicate.

For several years now, I too have been using photography as a second language. I have noticed that when I embrace this way of communicating while in the process of subject capture, the results are significantly different from those captured with other perspectives and approaches. I even feel the difference internally. The interest, energy, passion, for the work is so much stronger. The internal feelings and external results are maintainable throughout the total workflow from vision to presentation.

The main thing I have always wanted to communicate to and with others is to encourage civility and a sense of calm in this sometimes harmful and noisy world. Many times, amid offering my work in art shows people come into my booth saying, “We just came back to calm down.” This is said without any need for me to say even one spoken word.

Capture with me for a moment. What if we were to try to communicate photographically the meaning of love, hate, passion, apathy, confidence, fear, happiness or sadness? How would we capture and thus communicate the very essence of who we are as an individual? I have noticed as well that when I am overly preoccupied with other life issues, the photographs I make seem to  image that preoccupation. Maybe even the subject of my preoccupation! I feel it is true that no matter what image is made by the photographer, it is a tell, it is divulging a self-truth.

When it comes to photographic approaches, technical manipulations, subject matter choices or the metaphysics of imaging or making art, I believe those aspects to be only my personal dialect of my second language.

I now answer the question, “do you speak a second language,” by saying yes. My second language is photographic art.

The next time you go about your workflow pretend whole-heartily to be unable to speak or write. Tell somebody something through your photographic language.  See if you notice a difference in how you feel and see?


Alpha State and Creative Art

March 24, 2017  •  2 Comments

ALPHA STATE AND CREATIVE ART

 

Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of photographers who are desiring to explore what it means to create a masterwork. Though there are many definitions of masterwork or masterpiece, we are trying to determine if one of those definitions can be applied to our own workflow in creating a photographic image. Two definitions I would like to use in this blog are:

In paraphrasing another way of describing a masterwork;

  • Once you have seen a masterwork, you will never forget it.

Both definitions resonate well with the word and meaning of authenticity. Basically, I question whether an artist’s masterwork could be a masterwork without being authentic to his/her unique vision and workflow. For example, I have admired Edward Weston’s pepper image ever since I first saw it many years ago. I have even attempted to make such a photograph myself. I would have to say that yes, it is a work I have never forgotten; and yes, it is perhaps a masterwork of Weston’s. Yet, no matter how well made my reminiscent ‘pepper’ is, it can never be a masterwork of mine. It was not my vision.

Now the question becomes, is it possible for me make a photograph that is truly authentic, and made with a unique workflow, then be seen and experienced as something unforgettable?

For many years, I have been interested in and experienced the effect ‘alpha state’ images (visions) have had on my artist within or my way of seeing. An alpha state is that half awake and half asleep awareness that can be experienced going into or coming out of sleep. It can also be brought about through a wide variety of meditation practices.

When I am in a more alpha state of awareness the most beautiful, and what I believe to be most authentic, images present themselves. They appear undirected by my conscience mind; they just appear, as it would seem, on their own. They are not reminiscent of any artwork that I can recall.

I believe, or, at least, I am considering, that if I have a good chance of creating a masterwork under any definition, it may well have to come from this alpha state resource. Even though I cannot know from where or if these images have an ‘outside’ influence, they do appear as the purest form of authenticity that I have to offer.

Now comes the concern of how a workflow, coming from my conscience and awake mind, honors the perceived authentic nature of the alpha state vision. The faces, lines, macro-level detail, moody light, and 3D shapes are so varied. They almost insist on their own unique photographic capture and post-process workflow. The razor-sharp lines and intimate fractal design workflows are counter to what is needed for the faces and shapes that are more pictorial in presentation.

I do not have an adequate answer to this concern. I do believe that learning and experiencing more about how an alpha state awareness affects the creation of art has high merit.  For this artist quest, I feel a certain excitement.


Veil of Unknowing

November 07, 2016  •  1 Comment

There are times in which I experience an artist's block. Is my signature style still resonating with what I want to communicate? Do I listen too intently to what others say about my work? Am I truly creative in making a photograph, or, am I merely taking or capturing something that appeals to me at a particular moment in time?

As I was going through some earlier writings of mine, I came across this prose from 21 years ago! What interested me about this writing was the word veil. Veils tend to allow only a partial vision. We are not quite sure what is being felt, seen, heard, or touched.

When I am making a photograph I at times wonder the same thing. What am I actually seeing and how much remains hidden or unknown? How this veil or barrier can be lifted? 

The following is one perspective about veils as they affect our creative work and in many cases certain aspects of our lives.

 

Can the veil between what is known and unknown be lifted to truly see the other?

After all, it is only a veil made by we who insist on being apart from the other side.

Perhaps it is the artist who has felt the veil's rending, if only for a moment's moment.

The artist continues the 'genesis' not through selfish design but by illustrating dreams unfolding.

There is no act more noble. It is a partnership with that of the highest order. 

Feel, see, listen, dream, perform O' artist of creative passion, yours is the flower of all humanity.

 

Adapted from March 14, 1995


Listening

October 06, 2016  •  2 Comments

The more I use all of my senses, the better I feel about the captures I make. Listening is one of those senses that bring an additional perspective and way of seeing. It can lead to positive change within one's personhood as well.

LISTENING

Listen, listen closely.

Only the silence will bring forth

                ribbons of aliveness the past affirms.

Our ears still hear the faintest

                of cries for help.

Works of love and empathy

                Survive yet another moment.

Look quickly now,

                to the conforming shapes and lines

                that blur in the now

                of shadow and light.

Touch the harsh texture of

                risk and feel the sinking flow

                of anxiety that greets perseverance.

These are the hallways of transition

                and the doorways to transformation.

Sense the rhythms of

                community flowing through

over and around that which blocks

Let the music of civil living

                guide the way.

Listen yet again, be very still and

                hear the gentle and persistent hum

                of energy not yet lost.

Experience the diversity of a people

                and experience the common likeness!

It is the symphony of possibility,

                an instrument of peace and hope.

Out of the test come

                the authentic call, touching the world.

From the moments of loving empathy

                come openness and acceptance, touching the heart.

 

               

                

 

               

                


Chair Simply Sat

April 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

A chair simply sat

empty of thought or action

fall heartbeat slowing