Yesterday found us in downtown Charleston visiting our favorite art gallery. While there, we were so inspired by a new artist who is using acrylic, oil, and car paint along with gold dusting to paint an acrylic sheet. The depth, color, shifting of the story when the light transitions across it was absolutely inspiring. So inspiring that Tiff wanted to come home, grab her paints and order an acrylic sheet.
The inspiration that comes from seeing the unique work of another painter or artist is a beautiful thing. The possibilities of what you yourself could create, knowing that although you might use the same materials, your personal fingerprint will cause a created piece to be uniquely your own in its own right. Therefore, inspiration is an empowering emotion in creative arts.
Does this also apply to photography? It’s a question I asked myself when I woke up this morning. Our cameras are virtually the same, with the only difference being the range of light and amount of information that can be recorded for a single image. That being said, if we stood side by side, with the same camera, same focal length we would in fact create the same image. Where is the artist fingerprint in this process?
We’ll find our fingerprint in what I believe are two areas: location and post processing. Both take patience, exploration and time.
Finding a new composition or location requires a commitment to travel (either 30 minutes from your house or 30 hours), study maps and then it all comes down strapping on your hiking boots. With your gear on your back and struggling past any pre-visualization, approaching a scene with fresh eyes and looking for that which captures your attention is an important part to the process of finding your fingerprint.
Post processing. We believe that post processing is the brush (literally) and the paint of the photographer. Similar to painting and other artistic mediums there are rules to be aware of so that you can create more powerful imagery. Processing on the computer can be a deeply rewarding process that can genuinely place your own unique fingerprint on a piece. Similar to paint, if you invest the time into knowing the possibilities, techniques and add in a dash of your own “what if’s” magic can happen. This is great art.
The trap that we can often fall into as photographers is imitation that robs our creativity. If you’ve picked up any photography magazine in the last 2 years you’ll notice the holy grail of images is the wide angle shot, mountains in the far background and a clumping of flowers in your foreground. When one well named photographer created this shot, it seemed a large number of photographers started chasing a similar composition. While beautiful, there’s something left wanting. There’s no originality, and if we are left without a unique fingerprint, are we merely imitation artists who excel in producing replicas?
These are tough questions, and to be quite honest they are topics we constantly toss around in our conversations as we quest for inspiration that leads to great work. Our desire is to bring powerful imagery that evokes emotion, similar to the artwork that we saw yesterday in the gallery. It caused us stand before the work, exclaim with excitement about a new element found in the piece, and share that appreciation together. This is our ultimate goal for our photography. That a single image, created well, birthed from our inspiration would uniquely touch someone in a powerful way. We firmly believe that level of photography can only be created when your heart is poured out and “what if’s” have been answered.