What Is In Your Photographic Kitchen?

February 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Garlic Version IVGarlic - Version 4

What is in your photographic kitchen? What herbs, seasonings and flavours do you most use? Like cooking, photography is a mixture of various techniques to make the best experience for both you and the viewer. Photographers may use presets and plug-ins and software enhancements to flavour an image in the same way a master chef or cooking enthusiast would. 

One question to ask is: are you using the same ingredients on all or most of your images? In the pursuit of some kind of "signature style", many people tend to use the same presets, or techniques, or seasonings, for everything they do. It is like a music group who finds a formula sound, and all of their work ends up sounding the same (I'm looking at you, Coldplay!).

It is risky to keep innovating and changing and challenging yourself through your work. You risk confusing or alienating your audience. But how then do you grow creatively if you keep doing the same thing over and over?  I think of artists like Picasso, Matisse, Man Ray, Miles Davis, and The Beatles and countless others who continually challenged and innovated themselves and inspired their contemporaries. In the process, they created an expanding language that opened eyes and hearts.

Years ago, I stumbled on a book of drawings and early paintings by the Navajo artist R.C. Gorman. By that time, R.C. had long become an "industry", a factory artist who churned out "signature" artworks for busloads of admirers. But this book I found of his early works was amazing! I would place them on a par with many of Picasso's drawings. They were beautiful works from a skilled artist who, sadly, reached a point where he stopped innovating.

I believe you can create, innovate, and make totally new works, even if they contradict what you had done earlier. Let the audience come to you, instead of you trying to figure out what the audience wants. The best gift you have is to show others how the world looks through your eyes.  In the words of America's beloved poet Walt Whitman, "Do I contradict? Very well, I contradict. I am large. I contain multitudes."  

And so do we all...   


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