Friday Inspiration: Julius Shulman

The relationship between creator and publicist is something that struck me as a little weird when it was first spelled out that there may be a real need for this dynamic – how will anyone know what you’re done if you don’t tell them or can’t communicate with them effectively?

I was thinking about this again recently in the context of architects and the photographers that photograph the resulting buildings. A good architectural photographer is able to understand the buildings design and show it in a way that reinforces the design. Perhaps the most famous of architecture photographers is Julius Shulman. While I didn’t know who Shulman was until recently I did recognize some of his photographs and particularly the one shown above, “Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960. Pierre Koenig, Architect.” One of the distinct features of Shulman’s work was that he often included people in his photographs, something that was unusual at the time and still isn’t terribly commonplace. Check out the videos of Shulman discussing his work below. A full version of the documentary ‘Visual Acoustics‘ is available on NetFlix or you can buy a copy here.

Connecting with Your Voice

20120208-091845.jpg

I thought that it would be interesting to share here a pair of exercises that I did recently and one that I have continued with that is intended to help connect you with your story, your voice and your aesthetic.

As I mentioned previously we all see the world in a unique way and as a result we all have a different and interesting story to tell. One of the difficulties is owning that and being true to what you have to say.

Many of us haven’t spent the time to explicitly say – these are the things that attract me, these are the things that repel me, these are the things that I find energizing, these are the things that I find draining, these are the places that I feel most comfortable and in these places I feel uncomfortable.  Exercise 1 – go do that!  Carry a notebook around with you and make notes about where you are and why you’re responding in a particular way.

If that is the first exercise then the second is to acknowledge what photographers produce work that attracts and which produce work that repels you. Broaden that to include other visual artists, to designers – furniture etc., Then ask the question why they appeal or repel? Finally how is this aesthetic captured in your work.

Taking time to do these relatively simple exercises has helped shape my thinking about what I photograph and why. I suspect it may for you too.

My 2012 To Do List

Happy New Year!

I’ve had an extended break from blogging in a vain attempt to catch-up with all of my other responsibilities and draws on my time. I’m not fully caught up but I’m back.

I know a lot of people look forward to the new year with a list of resolutions. I do something similar to that too, although my list is usually a combination of the pragmatic and the impossible. Things that I absolutely need to get done and things that only in my wildest dreams would come true. Usually there’s not a lot of stuff in the middle. In no particular order here are a few of the things from my list:

1. Publish a book of my photographs

It is becoming easier and easier to self-publish. The recent announcement of the Beta version of Lightroom 4 includes integration for Blurb. One can only imagine that a raft of self-published photobooks will ensue. Makes me think that if everyone’s going to be doing it then I’ve missed the boat but then I could say the same thing about photography too!

2. Complete the planning for a trip to Shikoku in early 2012

Shikoku sounds like an interesting place to visit. A little off the tourist path but there is a well known pilgrimage around the 88 temples here. There was an interesting article in the National Geographic Traveller about the island. Check it out here: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/shikoku-japan-traveler/

3. Learn Japanese in anticipation of my Japan trip

While languages are certainly not my forte Shikoku appears to be far enough off the regular visitor trail that some Japanese could come in handy. The Rosetta Stone language immersion program looks like it would be a good way for me to get started.

4. Complete preparation for the show at RMSP gallery

An exhibition of my photographs will be up at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography gallery for 3 months starting the first week in May. Very excited about that. Please stop by and say hello if you’re in Missoula the first Friday in May.

5. Live more sustainably

I’m not much of a tree hugger but when I see things such as the albatrosses that Chris Jordan shows with his work it makes me want to be more conscious of the things I buy and how I get rid of it. Quality over quantity has to be a good thing.

Still on the sustainable living theme – the image below is taken from Azby Brown’s book ‘Just Enough Japan’ which is a look at how the Japanese in the 1600’s facing a lot of the same problems that we face to day dealt with them. Very interesting reading.