Friday, October 8, 2010

A Personal Vision

I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while. The big question I faced is what to blog about? So many photography blogs focus on process and technique. Now, all of us photographers are in some ways interested in cameras, lenses, film, inks, papers, film/digital and PhotoShop. Photographic technology and process are great, but there is more to image making than the actual process by which we all make images. For me, photography is about communicating my vision. Cameras, inks, papers, films and software are only tools which help me communicate that vision.

Keeping the theme of communicating personal vision in mind, it's a good time to talk about one of my heros, Chuck Close. Just recently I finished reading the biography of Chuck Close ... "CHUCK CLOSE LIFE" by Christopher Finch. Close is an amazing artist and individual. Aside from the fact that he has been a quadriplegic for 22 years and continues to be at the top of the contemporary art world, photography has played a significant role in his art. He has a tremendous admiration for photography. His use of photography and understanding of the medium led me to do a bit more research into his personal views on the photographic art form and how it pertains to his personal vision.

I came across a book titled, "PHOTO WISDOM: MASTER PHOTOGRAPHERS ON THIER ART" by Lewis Blackwell. The book is a compilation of artist's statements about their work, process and creative vision. The book includes statements by such notable photographers as Michael Kenna, Loretta Lux, Mary Ellen Mark, Elliott Erwitt, Edward Burtynsky, Joyce Tenneson and Chuck Close to name a few.

Close really hit a nerve when discussing his attraction to photography ... He states "the thing that interests me about photography and why it's different from all other media, is that it's the only medium in which there is even the possibility of an accidental masterpiece. You cannot make an accidental masterpiece if you're a painter or a sculptor. It's just not going to happen. Something will be wrong." He goes on to explain that "this is photography's great advantage and its Achilles heel: it is the easiest medium in which to be competent. Anybody can be a marginally capable photographer, but it takes a lot of work to learn to become even a competent painter. Now having said that, I think while photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent, it is probably the hardest one in which to develop an idiosyncratic personal vision. It's the hardest medium in which to separate yourself from all those other people who are doing reasonably good stuff and to find a personal voice, your own vision, and to make something that is truly, memorably yours and not someone else's. A recognized signature style of photography is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve." In closing, Close says "photography's not an easy medium. It is, finally, perhaps the hardest of them all."

And I thought painting and sculpting was difficult!

1 comment:

  1. Craig,
    It was nice meeting you earlier today at Torpedo Factory. I will look into Chuck Close following this blog. As you had mentioned earlier, that is a great quote by Mr Close on signature style. Thanks Laurent Fox