Photo Cascadia Blog
Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’
Whether it’s serious or downright hilarious we all can appreciate quotes that inspire us in some way or at the very least cause for pause and thought. Some of these have been accumulated over time in my note taking and others were discovered when thinking about this blog post. They were chosen because they reflect how I view photography or nature, inspire me personally, portray the past, present, future of photography or merely provide a good laugh. After all “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine” – Lord Byron.
I am sure a few you have heard before yet I am also sure there are some you haven’t. From some of the biggest names in photography to others not as well known or not professional photographers at all, to simply nature related inspiration for your next landscape adventure. Spend a few minutes below to get your thoughts flowing. These are intentionally in no particular order. Feel free to comment below with your favorite photography or nature related quote.
“In a world and a life that moves so fast, photography just makes the sound go out and it makes you stop and take a pause. Photography calms me.” – Drew Barrymore
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman
“With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“The whole nature of photography has changed with the advent of a camera in everybody’s hand.” – Sally Mann
“I find it some of the hardest photography and the most challenging photography I’ve ever done. It’s a real challenge to work with the natural features and the natural light.” – Galen Rowell
“Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.” – Nancy Pelosi
“I don’t have a favorite photo. As a photographer, I have attachments to each image. Not the one photo: the experience of getting the photos is the challenge or the thing.” – Michael Muller
“It is a peculiar part of the good photographer’s adventure to know where luck is most likely to lie in the stream, to hook it, and to bring it in without unfair play and without too much subduing it.” – James Agee
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind
“Photographers deal with a lot of crop.” – Unknown
“With photography a new language has been created. Now for the first time it is possible to express reality by reality. We can look at an impression as long as we wish, we can delve into it and, so to speak, renew past experiences at will.” – Ernst Haas
“Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.” – Unknown
“The more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“The grass is always greener when you crank up the saturation in Photoshop.” – Unknown
“If we limit our vision to the real world, we will forever be fighting on the minus side of things, working only too make our photographs equal to what we see out there, but no better.” – Galen Rowell
“Cheap photography isn’t good, my dear, and good photography isn’t cheap.” – Unkown
“I think a photograph, of whatever it might be – a landscape, a person – requires personal involvement. That means knowing your subject, not just snapping at what’s in front of you.” – Frans Lanting
“How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb and 49 to say, ‘I could have done that!” – Unknown
“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams
“The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?” – Edward Weston
“People say photographs don’t lie, mind do.” – David LaChapelle
“You must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment a photographer is creative. The moment! Once you miss it. It is gone, forever.” – Henri- Cartier-Bresson
“Every photograph is the photographer’s opinion about something. It’s how they feel about something: what they think is horrible, tragic, funny.” – Mary Ellen Mark
“I’m always mentally photographing everything as practice.” – Minor White
“You might be a photographer if you won’t even share a cell phone picture without editing it.” – Unkown
“Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget.” – Robin Williams
“It was only after a while, after photographing mines and clear-cutting of forests in Maine, that I realized I was looking at the components of photography itself. Photography uses paper made from trees, water, metals, and chemistry. In a way, I was looking at all these things that feed into photography.” – David Maisel
“Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.” – Piercy W Harris
“For me, pointing and clicking my phone is absolutely fine. People say that isn’t the art of photography but I don’t agree.” – Annie Lennox
“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. And if things don’t work out, just take another shot.” – Unknown
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” – Edward Abbey
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau
“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” – Abraham Lincoln
“A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel.” – Peter Adams
“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” – Ken Rockwell
“Warning: I am about to snap!”- Unknown
“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” – Edward Steichen
“When you are a photographer, you work all the time, because your eye is the first camera.” – Patrick Demarchelier
There are many photographers who worry that exposure to photographs by others will contaminate the purity of their own creative vision, that they will never find their own voice if they are working under the influence, so to speak. Creativity involves choice, however. The late, great art historian Michael Baxandall famously demolished the idea that artists can ‘influence’ other artists in the true sense of that word. He rightly pointed out that the notion of influence describes the effect of an active power exerting itself on a passive subject, and that the nature of artistic intention actually runs the other way around. He offered up some alternative vocabulary that better explains the process of working in any medium, actual possibilities for what an artist can do in light of another’s work:
“Draw on, resort to, avail oneself of, appropriate from, engage with, react to, quote, differentiate oneself from, assimilate oneself to, assimilate, align oneself with, copy, address, paraphrase, absorb, make a variation on, revive, continue, remodel, resist, simplify, reconstitute, elaborate on, develop, face up to, master, subvert, perpetuate, reduce, promote, respond to, transform, tackle…—everyone will be able to think of others.” (Patterns of Intention, pg. 58)
It is important for photographers to keep in mind that they have all of these options and more for creating their own photographs after viewing other images. It is also important to acknowledge that no photographer exists in a vacuum. One of the great plagues of history is the idea of pure creative genius, that an artwork can spring fully formed out of the head of an artist without any external input. On the contrary, we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and even so-called “naive” artists absorb the visual solutions of whatever imagery they do encounter. Promoting the idea of purity in creativity is not only absurd but is also detrimental to the creative spirit in that it sets up a false premise. That premise posits that what ultimately matters is difference, the extent to which a photograph or a body of work can stand apart from everything that came before it. What really matters, however, is not difference but substance—not standing apart, but making a contribution. As I have written before, the pursuit of difference puts the emphasis on what to avoid rather than what to create, an emphasis that is ultimately counterproductive.
One of the most helpful ideas about viewing photographs that I have encountered is to consider how they might be “extending the conversation” established by photographs that came before them. How is a given photograph in dialogue with what preceded it, and what has it contributed to that conversation? As Brooks Jensen explains, the more that we view other photographs and get to know the history of photography, the better able we will be to appreciate “the subtleties of the currents that drift through the medium” (Looking at Images, pg. 102). That level of appreciation will serve any photographer far better than the impossible pursuit of visual ignorance—burying your head in the sand only cuts off an important avenue for personal development. If we think about existing photographs positively, as foundational elements for all that follows, then we will be more likely to process this visual input in creative ways. We don’t have to try to ‘un-see’ other photographs or fear how they might affect our own work if we embrace the idea that we can ‘own’ our responses to them.
So my answer to the question in the title of this article is a resounding “yes”. Explore and enjoy the images of other photographers! Even photographs that cause us to be overwhelmed with admiration can advance our progress as individuals by helping us to identify what moves and motivates us, which is ultimately a point of personal discovery. If we keep in mind that visual literacy will inform the work of a photographer, not ‘influence’ it, then we can remain focused on productive goals rather than getting hung up on being different. Viewing the works of others is one avenue that can lead in a positive direction as we respond to what we see. Ultimately, anything that can put you in touch with your own interests, reservations, emotions, and experiences is going to help to place your focus where it belongs: on you.
Do you find yourself conflicted by the idea of viewing the images of other photographers? Do you have any favorite strategies for responding to visual input? Please feel free to chime in on this important topic by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading!
Erin divides her time between Cascadia’s Californian southern boundary and Slovenia, traveling and photographing extensively from home bases in both locations. Make sure to bookmark Erin’s site at www.erinbabnik.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and 500px.
By David Cobb
The other day I was asked my thoughts about today’s outstanding female landscape photographers. So below is a list of 21 practicing women landscape photographers whose work inspires me. (This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list by any means.) I’ve linked their names to their websites, so you can enjoy their photos too.
Erin Babnik splits her time between California and Slovenia, and her jaw-dropping images from Slovenia and Italy’s Dolomites are truly an inspiration. She comes from an art background and by the looks of it, she’s not afraid to put on a pack and wander off into the backcountry.
Oscar Wilde mentioned “youth was wasted on the young,” but he hadn’t met Kari Post. I first learned of her when she won the International Conservation Photography Award with an image of a snowy owl. She likes to photograph wildlife, but also has strong landscape and intimates to complement her portfolio.
Nevada Weir has been a mainstay in cultural photography for many years, and I find her landscape photographs (particularly of Asia) to be strong.
In the realm of the urban landscape, Julia Anna Gospodarou is probably my favorite. Her black-and-white architectural images are stunning, and I truly wish I could learn how to photograph like she does. I think I need to take one of her workshops.
Two travel photographers I love to follow are Yen Baet and Lucie Debelkova for their countryside and urban images caught at the blue hour. I enjoy living vicariously through their photographs and one day hope to see some of the places they’ve so beautifully captured.
I first met Mary Liz Austin in the field (actually in a pear orchard) with her full-frame camera, and I’ve admired her scenics from around the U.S. in calendars, books, and magazines.
Elizabeth Carmel is a frequent contributor to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and I’ve viewed her prints in galleries near Lake Tahoe. As far as I know, she’s the first person to photograph the now-often photographed bonsai rock at Lake Tahoe. Her landscape photography is inspiring and best viewed in person and close-up.
Deb Harder is little-known in social media circles, but I find her landscape images of southern Oregon stunning and impressive.
I’ve wanted to travel to Texas for years now to capture the classic blue bonnets and paintbrush under oak and fog, but because of the nine-year drought I haven’t made it. Lately, I’ve noticed the images of Laura Vu are inspiring me to travel to the “Lone Star State.”
I first knew of Varina Patel as a participant of the Nature Photographers Network (NPN), and I was impressed with her nature photography then. She’s only improved her skill as a photographer over the years.
Valerie Millett derives from an art background as a painter, so her transition to photography and composition has been smoother than most. If you’re looking for interesting images of the Arizona backcountry from a passionate photographer, check out her work.
Isabel Synnatschke seems like she’s always on the go from her base in Germany. If you’re interested in finding a new spot to photograph in the U.S. (especially the desert Southwest) or Europe, this is the woman to follow online.
Born in Indonesia and now living in Qatar, Helminadia Ranford captures spectacular images in soft light situations. She travels quite a bit, so her images vary from Asia, to North and South America, and the Middle East. Her processing is flawless.
I first met Darcie Sternenberg during one of my workshops. Everyone on the workshop was pointing their camera in one direction and she in the other–now I know why. Her black-and-white images carry an ethereal feel and are broken down into the simple elements of light and dark.
Cindy Jeannon lives and photographs in a world of stark beauty. Her compositions are simple yet complex, and her reverence for nature is felt while viewing her landscape images.
Hailing from the Greek islands, Mary Kay can capture light with the best of them. Her atmospheric photos and classic compositions complement a beautiful style of photography that almost always includes water.
Danielle Lefrancois is based near Banff, Canada so her north-country landscape is pretty spectacular. She captures it well at all times of the day and in all seasons.
Ann McKinnell’s style reminds me more of a disciple of Ansel Adams, and her photographs seem to carry the weight of a large-format composition. It’s refreshing to see that some traditions carry on in photography.
I photographed with Jennifer Wu a few years ago at Mount Rainier National Park during one of the best sunsets I’ve witnessed there. Named to Canon’s “Explorer of Light” team, she excels in the realm of night photography and has been perfecting her craft for many years.
I believe Hillary Younger is the only female landscape photographer from Tasmania, and her rugged coastal images of light and color bring her “neck of the woods” alive. She occasionally journeys elsewhere, but she certainly has her region dialed in for beauty.
Like I said earlier this is nowhere near a complete list, but a list of female landscape photographers whose work inspires me. I hope you will check out their sites, and maybe they’ll inspire your photography too. If there are some I missed or other photographers you wish to add, please comment and add them to the list.
4 Recent Inspirations
By David Cobb
I often browse the internet for inspiration and I’m moved by those who dare to do something different, dare to fail, and dare to have an original thought. I may not participate in their style of photography, but I appreciate it and it gets me thinking, “what if…”
Recently I became aware or four photographers who inspire me in different ways. The first is Gregg Kerber’s take on focus blur and photographing fireworks. By slowly sharpening his lens focus over a period of 2-5 seconds, Gregg is able to capture some astonishing images that look more like giant flowers in the sky than fireworks. These are truly inspiring and worth a try during my next fireworks photo shoot.
Then there’s Chris Friel, who I first noticed on Flickr. He decided to return to his painting days and incorporate a painterly style into his multiple-exposure photography. The finished affects are creative and stunning, and change a simple landscape image into abstract art. I admire the ability to experiment with new digital technology, and this sort of creativity opens up so many possibilities and hours of enjoyment with a camera.
Catherine Nelson comes from the world of painting and film. She’s worked creatively on some major motion pictures, but her photography is intricate and innovative as she blends together many images to create worlds of her own. The blending and painting are seamless in these small worlds of Eden, and the eye wanders about the landscape noticing the life and detail within. Her nature photography is expressed through these small globes of diversity.
For those of you who complain about too much Photoshop, take a look at Jessica Eaton’s work. She still uses film and does not use Photoshop, but her work with in-camera multiple exposure and darkroom techniques attest to what can and has been created without the digital darkroom. For her patterns of color and form one doesn’t need digital technology to be artistic, it only helps simplify and expand the process. The mind still holds the key to creativity, where there are simply no limits.
These are four photographers who have inspired lately, and their techniques will somehow influence mine in a small way. Their brilliant work has stirred my soul, moved me to photograph, encouraged me to experiment, and motivated me to create. And isn’t that what art is all about?