Part two of an ongoing series of excerpts from interviews with magazines and art students. This week, we get a bit deeper into it...mainly about how critical I am about my own work.
How would you describe your work? Starting off, I think I was probably like most landscape photographers. I used the widest-angle lens I could, and I crammed as much of a scene through that lens as would fit. I think it was probably from seeing those vast Ansel Adams compositions. I also liked doing long exposures with water. I felt the movement broke up a scene nicely, and added a nice effect to it. Like any technique, though, it can be overused. I would experiment, but always keep in mind that I wanted my work to abide by certain aesthetics.
I’m the harshest critic I can be with my work, especially while out working in the field. If I’m not achieving a composition that feels good to me, I won’t even load film to take a shot. Once you expose a sheet of film, you have a connection to it. You want it to work, and this clouds your judgement. Nothing is going to magically happen when you process your film. That photo that wasn’t working when you pushed the button still won’t work after you process the film. The same goes with working digitally. A bad composition is a bad composition, no matter how many filters you add to it in Photoshop.
In your opinion, what makes photography art? I’ve kidded around with friends who are painters, telling them that they have it SO easy, because if there’s a telephone pole in their way, they don’t HAVE TO paint it. Kidding, of course...
Speaking on behalf of my own photography, working with large format is very deliberate. When you view my work for example, every bit of information in each photograph is exactly where it is in the image for a specific reason. I look at it as designing inside of a rectangle. Things need to be balanced. Even chaotic scenes need to find a center. It is a huge challenge, as cameras record exactly what they see, and when you strip colors out of an image, all you’re left with, really, is design. You can’t rely on the viewer to be in awe of your colorful sunset, or a blue sky or emerald water. Black and white photography, to me, is as technical of a visual process as you can get.