Pictures Come from Pictures

I enjoyed the recent commentary in LensWork magazine by Carl Chiarenza on the value of studying and appreciating the work of fellow photographers.

There is a school of commentary I occasionally find in photographic circles that insists on creative isolation. These photographers simply refuse to look at the work of other photographers. This is usually stated with the authority of pablum about not wanting to be unduly influenced by someone else’s work.

. . .

I’ve always felt that art is a grand conversation.

. . .

I can only feel sorry for those photographers who deny themselves such great company – and conversation – on their creative path.

I am in complete agreement with this perspective as I find my work evolving and deepening as I am influenced by the works of my favorite photographers.

Recently, I discovered the photographs of Steffen Tuck of Brisbane, Australia on Instagram. Steffen is an architect and it shows in her photographs. They are about color and form – lines and curves and shapes – with shadows and light as defining elements in the pictures. They are not exactly abstract and yet not literal either. They are deeply influenced by balance and symmetry. The placement of the players in the frame is, in many of her pictures, more significant than the subject itself.  The photos are graphic and their impact is bold.

Even though Steffen’s photographs are very different from my own, I love them. And from her pictures come my pictures. I’m looking for color and ways to bring these graphic elements into my work, too. I’m happy for this creative conversation.