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What influences or supplements your art?
I spend a lot of time actively listening to photography related podcasts or watching the odd photography video on Youtube. A lot less about gear reviews these days, and more about Photographers themselves. I find myself looking back at the older and revered photographers rather than the latest person on their channel looking for a quick like and subscribe. To me I find more value in what influenced people like Diane Arbus or Robert Frank. What made them into the people they became and how did it influence them? Certainly a lot had to do with the life and times that they were living in and had they been living in our lifetime, I would think their style of photography would be lost in a sea of work from people who simply copies others for likes and shares.
These days, we are influenced by many factors in society. Not just by the news media or our environmental surroundings, but also by those who work to influence our decisions. I have to wonder if the photography greats felt that their lives were being influenced back in the day by such shallow reasons or if life as they saw it was really as realistic as it seemed.
“I really believe there are things that nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
- Diane Arbus
What influences you as an artist? Whether you are a photographer, painter, writer, etc… What influences your work or your thought process? Are there things you do that supplement your work? Or perhaps there are things that you do that you may not even realize have an influence on you.
Over the past year as I worked on this Substack newsletter, I’ve learned to appreciate the written word as much as I do the photographic image. Even as I write, I begin to appreciate listening to ambient music that compliments the feelings I have when I write. This is influenced by my quiet drives to work and the time I have to myself to mentally calm my mind. I think of ideas to write about or how I feel about certain events in my life and that, in turn, these inspire me to think of the things I photograph. Somewhat of a photographic circle of influence, but there are many of these that have a round about way of influencing my work. I have also allowed these other forms of creativity to expand further. Writing has taken on a whole new meaning to me, and talks with my wife have made me think more and more about the idea of disconnecting for stretches at a time.
Your creative supplements shouldn’t be influenced by the latest gear or review or even video of a person walking around a city. It should be influenced by what is immediately around you and what affects you. It shouldn’t even be influenced by what I’m writing here. It can be exciting to watch someone walk around the streets of London taking photographs, but it can also be really boring too. Just like photographing and posting the same type of photo that a thousand others have done already and expecting the same level of success. If you do it for yourself, that’s one thing, if you do it to gain, then you’ve already lost.
And don’t just think your inspiration should only come from other creative avenues. Sometimes inspiration comes from world events, local news or life changing events. Whatever the inspiration, let it be as individual as you are. It will shape you as much as you shape it.
On photography, there are many works today that are still original and striking, but they can get lost among those who search only what appeals to the masses and not what can truly is shaped from experiences. Look for those original photographers, seek out their work and understand what it is that influences their creation and in turn let it help you find what you are looking for. Like a good wine, good work takes time to find and appreciate.
“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they read a line of a poem twice.”
- Robert Frank