Impression of Fall

With little fall highlights.

My two greatest influences are not photographers. They are artists.

Vincent Van Gogh is one. Georgia O’Keeffe is the other.

Then, the photographers fall into line. People like Ernst Haas, Jay Maisel and David Alan Harvey. Every one of them, artists and photographers, influence my way of seeing. In color. And, all for different reasons.

Who influences you?

I was reading an article about many of today’s “digital photographers.” They bought a camera, maybe a few lenses and a flash. Off they go. They have no idea of the history of what they are doing. Or, who came before them. And, techniques used to make the picture of their dreams.

Now comes a whole class of “internet photographers.” These folks have never worked on assignment. Never made a commercial picture.

As you know, I use OnOne RAW photo editing software rather than Adobe products. The company has a whole host of “gurus” who will teach you their favorite techniques. Some are free. Some cost money. Or, they’ll take you on a guided tour. For even more money.

That’s fine, I guess. Everybody has to earn a living. They lead you to some far-flung location like Iceland, which is beyond very trendy, and photograph right along side of their class. All fun, I suppose. But, if you ask them where you can sell or license your newly made landscapes, they have no idea. Most of them sell through their website.

The real take away from this is that you are trying to learn from a person who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. I don’t give workshops or lead tour groups because I don’t know enough. And, I’ve been doing this for 47 years.

I suppose I could do something in New Orleans. But, everybody and their other brother comes down here to lead some kind of group. I’d rather make pictures, then be responsible for getting someone killed because they wandered into the wrong neighborhood carrying 40 pounds of gear.

By the way, this is not a rant. I don’t have many of those left in me. This is pretty much kind of a state of the industry, especially as it applies to new photographers, or those of you who might get a new piece of equipment from Santa. One can only hope. Right?

Here’s what I suggest.

If I were starting out, I’d take the time to learn everything I could about my new-found love of making pictures. I’d go online. I’d go to the library. I’d haunt museums. And, I’d visit galleries. Not only will you learn what came before, but your own direction might find you.

Of course, I wouldn’t limit myself to that. I’d photograph constantly. Every city, town or  village is interesting in its own way. Your backyard might hold something interesting. You’ll see why in a minute. I’d look at my work, deleting nothing on a lcd because you can’t see anything on those tiny screens and you don’t want to be called a monkey because the slang for peering at your lcd after taking a picture is “chimping.”

I’d develop the new work and look at everything closely. What are your successful pictures? What are your failures? That’s the most important thing. Select a few pictures, not everything that is sharp because that’s not culling, and work on post production. I know that some people make a big deal of saying “this is straight from the camera,” but, that’s nonsense.

Then, study some more, make more picture and do it again. And, again. And, again.

That’s the secret. Hard work.

I said that I talk to you about backyard pictures. Well, this picture is one of them. I walked outside around the blue hour and looked up. Believe or not, I didn’t do much to it in post except enhance what I saw. I did go further but the warm colors started turning electric. Like neon signs in the cool blues. That didn’t work for me. This did.


Leave a Comment

  1. Thank you for the invaluable advice and reminder. I humble feel it’s important to be aware, or have at least some understanding (make the effort to do so) of the history of who came before us. Be it in Photography, or in anything. I feel that one of the curses (that come along with many blessings) of living in this age when we have amazing technology available — it’s “easy” to produce something with relatively little effort compared to even 15-20 years ago. And folks who only exposed to clear, sharp HDD 4K imagery…well, they have missed out on the history & evolution stages. And I feel that simply sharp images does not equal the best one.

    Your question: who influences you?
    Well, Ansel Adams is an inspiration. A Japanese nature photographer, the late Michio Hoshino. And (not to flatter) viewing your work, reading your thought-provoking articles. In this sense, I am grateful for the technology & internet 🙂 Wishing you a good week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I lived during a very transitional time. As you say, today it’s easy. Too easy. I was shocked to learn that a New York Times photographer, probably one of the best working today, was young enough that he never shot a roll of film. In fact, he didn’t even know how to look at a piece of slide film.

      That’s very kind. And, very humbling. But, it does make me smile. I’m going to Google Michio Hoshino.

      You too. This is our Thanksgiving Week, so it’s often slower paced with a big meal on Thursday.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never called myself a photographer, even though I took a course in photojournalism and had to learn how to shoot, develop and print film (please don’t ask if I still remember all the steps, LOL …).

    What I do know is there are a lot of people out there making pictures that I admire; you are one of them.

    Man Ray is a favorite; I went to an exhibit of his work when we were in London a few years ago and was blown away by the endless variety beyond what I already knew. A print from one of his “black and white” series with Kiki de Montparnasse hangs on the wall in our home.


    • So, do you remember the steps? 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. It’s interesting about anybody who has produced work for any length of time. Their archives are often very deep and very broad. When I start poking around there, I often surprise myself and wonder who took the picture. 🙂


      • I remember laughing hysterically as I tried to do things in the dark, tripping over things in the dark room, and discovering that I worked better if I closed my eyes because it was less disconcerting. I also remember that you have to turn off the focus light *before* you put the paper in the printing thing. But beyond that? Not so much. It’s been nearly 30 years!


      • I was taught to do some things like load film in reels by wasting a roll and doing it while I was watching television in the light. Focus on the show and don’t look at your hands. Keep doing it until you can do it without thinking. Just about like anything in photography.

        Liked by 1 person

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