A friend commented that “real world info from great photographers in the trenches is priceless” and asked, “What inspired you? How did you visualize the shot? What camera settings did you use? I want to know insider details unique to gifted photographers.”
There are as many answers to these questions as there are photographers, great and unseen, but first of all, to be gifted means to have an uncanny ability to attain skill or knowledge that other’s have to work at to get. I am a practiced photographer of 30+ years (with music and art background) rather than gifted. Mozart was gifted. His greatness was because he already understood music before he played wrote it down (unlike his private life as I understand it, was really in the trenches).
Each image or shoot is born from a unique spot because unless you are in a light-controlled room shooting for a toothpick company, nothing is ever the same twice. Like driving, elements change, the environment varies, you have to anticipate other’s moves, communicate, be ready to react and think ahead all at the same time. Photojournalism, commercial, portraiture, still life, conceptual, fine art, event and editorial photography all involve responding to a different set of elements of varying degrees and each requires an understanding, passion and time for you to become efficient at it. In any case you will never master learning how to see because then you would stop photographing.
I’m pretty sure I can’t preach how to “see" to a general photography class. Like Mozart, I’d rather create than teach, but I’ll admit I did teach a class for teens in 2009. They all showed up with digital cameras. One had a film camera and just one roll of 24 exposure black and white film. I tried to guide the students to think about why they were shooting, but alas, for half an hour every day the digital users would shoot and delete over and over until they got what they liked. The limited student did’t have that luxury. I never saw her work until the last day. By the end of the course the digital users had replaced batteries daily and showed perfectly exposed typical content available at a arms reach. The film student captured images rich in unique personal content. Her technical skills will improve with experience. Was she a better photographer? I just think she had to think. Obviously, if I was to teach today my approach might be different, but the point is that mindfulness produces meaningful results.
Anyone can read a camera manual. Your tools must be the first thing to learn but you will always have technical issues. Beyond that each image is a unique structure based on a recipe of practiced elements - content (your sense of interest), composition (how you see it) and knowledge and application of techniques.
Around 2005, Polaroid film was great fun as I revolted against digital photography that then felt to me like a painter might feel if stuck using the same canvas, colors and brushes every day. Also, agencies were paying photographers the same for a days worth of unlimited digital work as we used to get for one single slide. So, I found a Polaroid SX70, a day lab, some Time Zero film and started focusing on fine art photography.
The emulsion of original Time Zero film (no longer available) takes time to harden, making it possible to alter the appearance. "Vase and Flowers" below is the second live piece I created. Later, I used hand warmers and a metal plate to keep the emulsion soft while I worked pressing around the image with a wooden pottery burnishing tool. Sometimes I copied slides through the Day Lab, but most fun was doing work live as my eye saw my environment through the Polaroid lens.
Vase and Flowers will be exhibiting at The Artists' Gallery in Frederick MD, through May, 2018.
View my gallery page for a few other Time Zero creations.
Fern frost and ice flowers have covered the glass on the porch windows up here in north country. With the -15 degree temperature my hands held out for about 8 minutes at a time while composing these mystical frozen worlds.
Check out this slide show of this years Box Show Deconstructed and Silent Auction, UNBOXED, held at The Artists' Gallery in Frederick MD.
SATURDAY MARCH 2, 2013 5-9pm
4 East Church St, Frederick MD
This is a HUGE event with lots of refreshments in conjunction with Downtown Frederick's First Saturday.
Each year I have a blast photographing the awesome, one of a kind artwork by members of the gallery and their guest artists.
For more information visit The Artists' Gallery website.
Q&A with photographer Palma Brozzetti, Frederick photographer among those showing in ‘Grayscale’
Originally published December 20, 2012 By Katie Crowe
The wind tackles the beach. Squabbling gulls lift, glide then return to a battered pier as if tethered.
Driving through Toronto left me no choice but to careen into the torpedo of traffic fighting for custody over ten southbound lanes. Eventually, vehicles scatter off the QEW.
I followed my inner radar to water and sky and take refuge along the shore of Lake Erie towards the town of Dunkirk, NY
"Just Beyond" by Marion Griffin
Interpreting art work is an education in visual art and in the artist. For several years I've been photographing artist's portfolios and have found that each experience is a report card in adapting to venue, element and content changes that spark compounding menus of technical strategies and aesthetic awareness that can be applied to other photography experiences.
As a painter and a yogi, Marion Griffin's world overflows with art and inner peace mingled with candid fun and open communication. Her abstract work is an autobiography of her natural self in lively palettes, textures and compositions.
I have grown to appreciate the difficulty of creating ongoing abstract work with such diversity of balance in design and color as Marion does. I have been able to guess which of her work will sell or which one her agent will choose for a promotional piece. This has encouraged professional trust and a "pick up where we left off" relationship.
"Cairn" Teapot by Shelley Stevens
Ceramics and photography are two of my favorite art forms and both worlds meet in Shelley Stevens' ceramics studio.
Her found driftwood treasures inspire platters, baskets, vessels and magical teapots to be choreographed around them. Patient slip trail or stamped designs on goblets reach for my hand. Earthy vessels (she calls glaze experiments) have been adding up on my shelf; addicting little personalities I occasionally rearrange - infinite landscapes at my command.
Zebrawood Fanfret Electrics by Wes Lorber
A super challenge this summer was photographing handmade guitars by Wes Lorber of Gravitas Guitar Works.
Though I have a background in music (mostly piano) I don't know much about guitars except what they look and sound like. I also don't know how my camera and I managed under 100+ degree weather and drenching humidity (digital downfall). With a diffusing umbrella and a black backdrop we worked up ideas. I saw Wes' instruments as a family of sculptures while he pointed out the importance of wood, grain and the essential details of his craftsmanship.
The response to this body of work was tremendous (my favorite sold!) and I now have an appreciation for the art of luthiery.
By photographing art work (as an artist myself) I'm lucky to be able to bask in aesthetic connection with the artist, their work and my self. Seeing how we artists must have our work portrayed as close to our intent as possible, it's such an honor to be asked do this.
Cover image of my book "Time Zero Manipulation", available at The Artists' Gallery for $20.00.
The original West Virginia Farm Road, a Polaroid Time Zero Manipulation piece, has found a home. It sold at The Artists' Gallery Small Works + Big Hearts exhibit this weekend.
Ten percent of all Small Works sales will be donated to the Frederick Community Action Agency.