Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

One of the things I love is shooting in the rain. Part of what appeals to me, and why I realize my images look different when I do, is that usually people don't shoot in the rain. They don't want to get their cameras wet - they don't want to get wet themselves - so the majority of the images we see don't come from that experience. It's part an approach I think of as finding the "road less traveled" as a visual artist. 

There have been some very interesting approaches to this concept. The most obvious photographic one is choosing to shoot at night. One of my favorite images is a Michael Kenna shot of a Paris bridge at night. We're so used to seeing these things during the day, that just changing that single element creates a new visual palette. One of the things that really made Michael Kenna's work interesting is not only did he shoot at night - he made it look as if it were daytime. By using very long exposures he was able to flip our sense of where the light came from because, in actuality, during his exposures the light would be coming from multiple locations over time. His process compressed time into a single frame and he created a new visual aesthetic as we were able to see time, such as the ocean's movement over eight hours, compressed into a single image. 

Another example is Susan Barnett whose project Not In Your Face photographs the backs of people. We're so used to thinking that what's important about people photography is the face - right?  Instead, she chose to use the backs and in the process came up with a very interesting way to talk about people and their identities by removing our typical viewpoints. 

My challenge for you today is to take the path less traveled, in terms of how you approach image-making. If you feel like you're at a stumbling block trying to come up with something - consider writing it out. Literally write down the elements that you've been choosing and flip that script. Do you like shooting the zoo when it's full of people? Change one element and try shooting it completely empty. If you're still really new as an artist - then pick someone whose work you admire and do the same exercise with their work. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ann,
    Great post...also made me think of Philip Scholz Ritterman's long exposures, reversing the traditional relationship of photography and time.
    best, Kerry