Thursday, September 25, 2014

Photography & Society

 “The importance of photography does not rest primarily in its potential as an art form, but rather in its ability to shape our ideas, to influence our behavior, and to define our society.”  

-Gisele Freund

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Keeping Up

If you want to keep up with what photographers are doing, their latest work and on-going projects, like it or not, you have to follow their threads and posts on various social media. And I mean follow any given photographer on all their “feeds,” seriously!

The lack of print media and the trend toward news video have made it almost impossible for a photographer to get his or her imagery in front of viewers. Much like authors today photographers have to promote their own work and the only way to reach a wide and ever global audience is via social media.

Photographers must use Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to in effect “self-publish” in a hope that they will attract a following of potential clients, art buyers and collectors. It takes a certain critical mass of “followers” to cultivate a single sale and the size of that critical mass will vary, but that sale becomes part of a “thread” that will run common through the all social media and hopefully initiate some forward momentum.

Unlike the days of LIFE Magazine, Time and Newsweek when anyone could pick up the latest issue and see dramatic and informative images accompanied by photo credits of names they recognized and even trusted, today the place to find that continuity and consistence of quality is through social media.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Weaver

A friend of mine recently quite her salaried job for a part time position and to pursue her creative passion. She’s a weaver.

She’s going through the usual adjustments. The biggest of which is getting used to the idea that most of her waking hours are not devoted to making money.

It takes a while to get used to the notion that you can spend much less time making money and still keep yourself sheltered, clothed and fed. It is very difficult for most people when they decide their creative life is more important than money to adjust to the idea that the time they devote to their art is every bit as important if not more important than the time they devote to making money. And the completely debilitating idea that your creative work must earn money in order to be justified can completely kill your art.

The world needs creative people to be creative. Art and creativity nourishes the human soul and keeps cultures alive. Artists and creative work are vital to the survival of any society, the preservation of every culture and the existence of human kind.

It is a good thing to be a weaver, a painter, a poet, a musician, a story teller. One can always find a way to make a “living.” But a “living” at the expense of your art is not living at all.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Question of Expression

Since I started using the iPhone to take daily color snaps while I'm out & about I've been looking closely at how I compose in color and process the final image.

The in-camera image is always the raw material, placing colors in appropriate physical relation to each other. Knowing I will process the image in one or more of the apps on the phone I often leave space around the edges of the image to allow vignetting and exposure tools to shape the image. I also consider color saturation and usually prefer higher contrast and a muted palette.

I've found that I want to express a mood through the color image which is more pronounced and obvious than I have tried to achieve in my black & white film work, at least up until now.

It's possible the use of the iPhone in making these color images is effecting how I process my black & white film imagery. I'm liking more contrast and texture in my monochrome work these days. Certainly I'm influenced by recent studies of Japanese and Czech photographers.

But I still have issues with color and limit my use of it. I still believe, that for me. color often gets in the way of the image. Like Antonin Kratochvil has said, "The pain is in the eyes," not in the color of blood.

I disagree that color is more "raw" than black & white, as suggested by Gabriel Bauret in his book Color Photography. I strip away color to get at the essence of a thing, the essential expression. I'm looking for the tear drop on the cheek of the clown. That tear drop is often lost in the cacophony of the clown's colorful costume.

Photo: ©2013 David W. Sumner

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

With Liberty and Justice for All

The "Flag Project" is finally finished. The title is "With Liberty and Justice for All." The monograph was designed and put together at BigCrow Studio and will be available through MagCloud later this month. 

The monograph features 40 images selected from several hundred photographs I made over a period of seven years and includes a afterward by photographer Alyson Belcher. 

Below is the text from the forward of the monograph:

"Public display of the U.S flag is not uncommon. We expect to see it in a variety public settings. But what compels individuals, ordinary citizens, to display the flag: in a window, in front of a house, on clothing, on a car? Are these really private displays that just happen to share spaces that are at times public?

"There are of course obvious motivations for these displays of the flag: patriotism, nationalism, solidarity. But over the past decade the flag has come to represent many different things to different people. For some it provides a buffer of protection, for others it represents a different time lost to history, or an over abundance of false promises and for yet others it serves as a warning."

David W. Sumner
San Francisco, 2013