Friday, April 19, 2013

The Future of Your Seeing

The looking you do today influences the future of your seeing.

It hardly needs to be said that photography, as a visual medium, takes a lot of practice to be able translate one's vision to a two dimensional surface. And defining that vision can take a life time. But being aware of what shapes that vision as one develops as a photographer is vital to achieving that goal.

Everything we look at or watch or see a fleeting glimpse of will in some way shape our personal vision:  the way we look at the world, the way we see the world. As I've often said, looking and seeing are different things. Looking can lead to seeing and looking certainly shapes the way we see and this is key to developing a consistent vision.

The more we look the greater the chance of seeing. And the more things we look at the greater the potential for developing that deeper vision.

Photography benefits from a photographer's experience looking at not just photographs, but looking closely at paintings, drawings, typography, theatre, sculpture, every sort of visual media in addition to every aspect of one's physical surroundings.

I've spent a lot of time throughout my life in museums and galleries looking at paintings and all forms and types of art. Having a great many friends who are visual artists, writers and musicians has had a tremendous influence on how I look at the world. All this has shaped and influenced the way I see. Remember: seeing is the thoughtful interpretation of the act of looking.

The image above owes a great deal to the work of Edward Hopper and Ed Ruscha, two artists, among many others, who have shaped my visual language. But, this has happened only because I have spent time looking knowing that eventually I will begin to see.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feel the Light

As you come to know light you develop a 'feel' for its presence. You begin to know intuitively when light is performing, really putting on a show.

Sometimes the performance is subtle and full of nuance, but you are aware of all that and you begin to photograph.

Photo & text: @2013 David W. Sumner

Monday, April 1, 2013

Off the Shelf

I just finished reading a few interviews with Tod Papageorge. And I must say, though I tried to see some merit in his endless references to poetry and his philosophy regarding photography, I found none.

In some cases he parroted Winogrand to such an extent I wondered if there is any substance uniquely his to be found. Indeed it is the current Winogrand retrospective at SFMOMA that set me on this effort to study more about Papageorge. While they were close friends and may well have shared the same view point and philosophy regarding photography, I see no worth while similarity or reasonable comparison beyond that.

I admit I haven't seen a great number of Papageorge's images but those I have seen have not inspired me to seek out others. He seems to have done well running Yale's photography program and inspired several students through harsh criticism on to notable careers in photography, but when asked ( Kolby Yarnell, New York Times Magazine Nov. 25, 2007) why he only recently started publishing books of his work, his response was, "Nobody called." I hope this wasn't a tactic he taught his students: Make your photographs then sit back and wait for ecstatic waves of recognition to pour over you.

I must say I'm not impressed.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner