Friday Inspiration: Bryant Austin

sperm-whale

I stopped in at The Focus Gallery recently and while I was there saw the image above created by Bryant Austin. The image was awe inspiring – ~ 5ft x 20ft. Truly immersive and a fitting presentation for images of the largest mammals on the planet.

Austin, a California based photographer, has spent over 10 years working out how to take compelling photographs of whales – images that could really move someone, that reflect the experience of being in the water with the massive mammals. To achieve this goal he evolved his approach, from shooting off the coast in the US to more tropical settings, the gear he used, from film to digital, from fish-eye lenses to traditional portrait lenses and built computers able to handle the resulting files. His talk at Google that I’ve included below is a fascinating insight into what it takes to pursue a dream and what you can achieve if you’re prepared to go all in.

Check out the gallery of Austin’s work here and click here for a book of his work.

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Friday Inspiration: Jamie Wyeth

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One of the things that I often wonder about is ‘what does it take for the children of ‘successful’ parents to be successful in their own right?’ All too often the children of successful parents fail to step out of the shadows. Sometimes that’s by intent but I suspect more often that not it’s just that it doesn’t happen for those kids.

That clearly doesn’t seem to have been an issue for Jamie Wyeth, a third generation artist whose grandfather Newell Convers “N.C.” Wyeth and his father was Andrew Wyeth. Jamie seems to have had a somewhat unusual childhood having left school at 11 to be home schooled and to train as an artist under the guidance of his aunt Carolyn. I get the sense that while he may have had shown some talent as an artist early on that he’s really worked hard and received very open feedback on his work from one of the great american realist painters – his father. In the video below that shows him at work on ‘The Inferno’ (I couldn’t believe that was watercolors on cardboard) you hear Wyeth talk about painting being ‘drudgery’ at times but you keep working for those moments when it all comes together, a point that I have now heard many artists reiterate in their own way. The muses favor those that they find working!

Wyeth has a major retrospective exhibition going on at the MFA in Boston now until the end of the year. It looks like it would be fun to see since it pulls together all of the various aspects of Wyeth’s work in a way that hasn’t been done in a number of years. Check out the exhibition site here and hear Jamie Wyeth talking about his work below.

Getting Your Work Seen and Exhibited

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a little of the Flash Forward conference that was held in Boston in early June this year. I was particularly interested in the panel discussion ‘Getting Your Work Seen and Exhibited’ and was pleased to see that a video of this session recently appeared on the Flash Forward website. Check it out below:

Friday Inspiration: Cig Harvey

My first experience of Cig Harvey‘s photography was the image above which ran as a cover for Maine Magazine. It made me pick up the magazine, which I absolutely love, but also gave me an reason to dig deeper into Cig Harvey’s work.

Cig Harvey was born and raised in Devon in the South of England and now divides her time between Boston and the coast of Maine. Her personal work seems to me to tell the stories of what’s going on in her life and includes a number of self-portraits, many of which show case her collection of vintage dresses.

To hear Cig speaking about her work, process and inspiration check out this video .

Down The Tube Station at Midnight

20111115-221659.jpgI spend a lot of time traveling around Boston using the underground system which is locally referred to as ‘The T’. Even though I’d traveled around for years on the T it was only since my obsession with grungy iPhone photos kicked in that it occurred to me that there were some potential images to be made while waiting for the train. Initially I considered these to be sketches of what I might be able to do with my ‘real’ camera. Even so I quite like what I’ve been able to do so far and will continue to push the idea forward.

Close to Home

I’ve been reading, or rather, re-reading Stuart Sipahigil’s e-book ‘close to home’ in the last few days. Stuart makes a compelling argument that you often don’t have to look much further than your own backyard to make engaging photographs. Granted I would love my backyard to look like his – see page 10 in the e-book for an example – but I am fortunate to live in New England, an amazing part of the world. We take home for granted and stop seeing what is in front of us everyday and as a result miss opportunities to hone our craft without having to travel thousands of miles. This practice stands you in good stead when you do travel and have an opportunity to make photographs that you would have otherwise been unable to make.

William Neill in a recent post on the luminous landscape blog articulates this point nicely. I think I live in a great place, just south of Boston in the heart of New England. William Neill has live in or very close to Yosemite for over 25 years. Yet it took many visits over the course of a number of years for him to begin to make images that were unique and expressed what he felt. What particularly rings true for me is that the better you know and understand your subject the more likely you are to make a unique image. Focusing on subjects close to home allows us to visit frequently, to experiment with making images at different times of the day, different seasons and different weathers. Making it more likely that you’ll capture the essence of the place.

Stuart describes an exercise in his book of limiting your self to a particular area ‘Close to Home’ in an effort to spark the creative juices. My reaction to Stuart’s exercise rather than to initiate such a project, was to think about how far from home I consider still to be close. I’ve been shooting close to home for the last 3 or so years.  I attended a workshop in Acadia NP and while I had a good time, I didn’t end up with many images that I was happy with.  I realized that I needed to put some time in behind the camera if I’m to stand a chance of getting the images that I hope to make.  After 3 years of working the same subjects in different seasons, weather and light, I now feel that I’m likely to get reasonable images when I venture farther afield.  The time is right for me to expand what I consider to be my home territory. After some consideration I decided that for me ‘home’ is now up to an hours drive or about 50 miles for morning shoots and perhaps 2 hours or 100 miles for evening shoots. This gives me an enormous range of potential subjects that I could explore. To help me focus I am going to begin a couple of projects – one of which is to get more images of Boston. Even though I live close to the city and travel there every day, I have very few images that go beyond the standard tourist shots. This is the year that I will work to build my Boston portfolio – watch this space!