Tag Archives: Creativity

Artistic Portrait – Is a copy bad?

Edmonton photographer, Daryl Benson has been one of the photographers I truly admire…I am always fascinated by his artistic images.  His images are super original. It is like Thelonious Monk who is considered to be one of the pioneers of Be-bop (one of Jazz styles post swing era). His unique approach of piano play and his music was also called “Monk music”. However, I have never tried Daryl’s methods even though I felt to creating images like his works. To be honest, I am afraid of bing a copycat. So I had just concluded and told myself “Just be an artist like him”. But how can I learn his technique and such matchless creativity without coping?

About 3 weeks ago, I attended Professional Photographers of Canada meeting and the guest speaker was Darton Drake, amazing portrait photographer from U.S. I was so moved by his philosophy and attitude toward photography and arts. Great artists always have many astonishing episodes, and we can learn from their stories. His portraits were so outstanding and only one of its kind. I am sure that words can describe only a little about his art, so please visit his web-site, http://www.dartondrake.com/.

Then I signed up the workshop by Darton and Shelly Vandervelde. He showed us his way of the photo processing, every steps from the file came from camera to the complete work of his artistic portraits. He mentioned that copy was not bad and it was necessary (but not submit images to competitions or put on sales….make sense to me).  I felt relieved. Well…think about other art-forms, everybody has to copy one point. Artists have to break the shell of the comfortable zone. I knew “copy” is the only way to expand horizon, especially when we find such inimitable artistic styles.

So I tried! This image was taken as an ice-break shot for students at the workshop Janice Meyers Foreman and I had in June. I had only 5 minutes window before students started shooting, and it was studio portraits. I had to give up the shooting before my creativity kicked in. But I think I could turn the image to something I can share, I obviously applied the processing techniques I learned at Darton and Shelly’s workshop . My confession would be…this attempt is against my policy. I should visualize the final result, even partially, before clicking a shutter button instead of using Darton’s methods as a rescue technique.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Model: Choco Sparks

I know I have to try this methods again and again, and hopefully, I can develop my own methods and styles. I think  I will have more sleepless nights.

Impact of Photography, and Tone – Lisa Mercer

Last week, I FOUND this image in a bunch of prints. It was a club print competition. When I came to this image I felt something weird. It was definitely an interesting image but not straight forward. Then I started analyzing the photo and I was thinking what kind of effects had been used on the horse. Eventually, I found out the image was upside-down. I was totally tricked. Then I started wondering “Is this Lisa’s image?”. Yes, it was. Now I would like to talk about two points from this experience.

Jazz, especially after be-bop age, seems to force some sort of training on listeners to get a point to appreciate the form of the music. “A love supreme” by John Coltrane may be so esoteric for some people if they have not already had some jazz albums in their CD collection. Now, think about Mozart’s Requiem (I think most of you know about this legendary piece through the movie “Amadeus”). It is a Requiem which is supposed to be dark, sad, and heavy. However, when I listen to the piece, I sometime feel heavenly and feathery, and it is beautiful.

Back to photography, when photographers Judge or critique some others’ photos, “beautiful”, “gorgeous”, and “Wow” images tend to get rated higher. So called “wow factor” is the one we are looking for. But wait a minute, why cannot it be “Hmmm” factor or “Ah-ha!” factor? Or even “Ewww” factor? It is not doubt
that everybody likes colorful sunrise landscape shots of the Rocky mountains by
PROFESSIONAL photographers. They are gorgeous. But think about a quality of some images appearing in my head and forcing me to think about the image before going to sleep. Don’t you think they are very successful images in terms of communication to viewers?  This photo by Lisa is one of them, really.

2nd point. This is good opportunity to talk about what I have been thinking about lately. I mentioned, in the first paragraph of this posting, that I could tell it was Lisa’s image; actually, I could tell both of her two images. So how can I do that because I can see her own tone in image (In this article, tone will be dealt differently from style). I like to call it “Signature Tone”. Possibly, it is similar to “touch” which painters refer to, or distinctive sounds which musician make from their musical instruments. When looking at master photographers’ works, which of course recorded on film, I am often impressed by their signature tones (To me, extreme examples are Daido Moriyama and Joseph Sudek). Now, in the digital age, what we can do on images on a computer are limitless. Nowadays, you can easily find so many HDR photos, and the technology, quite easily, allow us to achieve these outstanding HDR images. Most of times, what we have to do is find a preset of the tone mappings you like, and click the button. But can you say it is your signature tone? I am not saying HDR is an evil; actually I could not complete some of my images without the HDR method. I believe we, as artists, should try and experiment new techniques, and it is fine to publish the results on any occasions. But to make it your signature tone and style, we need further steps and time to digest the try and errors. To be honest, I cannot answer how to develop own tones of images. Often said that to develop own flow of processing leads to own tone and style, but I feel it is not that simple.

Anyway, I am glad to show you Lisa’s very artistic photo here and I AM honored she joined the members for the “Ethereal” Photographic gallery group show in fall. Here is her comment about her photo as well.

This photo was taken in May 2010 at the farm next door to my acreage.  There is a small wetland on the front pasture there, and I usually enjoy shooting various waterfowl, but the horses were walking around in it this day. This horse’s name is River, and I met him the day he was born, also next door – we are friends with the neighbours.  The horse will be 3 this coming July.

Lisa