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“I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before.”
Robert Mapplethorpe

The inspiration for this post was taken from a blog I frequently read, Tom Mclaughlan: Thoughts & Pictures. In his post, “Credo,” he explores his own personal credo.After reading this post, I began to think about the idea of a personal credo and I struggled;  am I actually able to condense my priorities and how I see the world into a sentence or a couple of points?

As someone who owns a business, I am constantly evaluating my business “credo.” However on a personal level, I have never thought to map my ideals out.

I became further inspired when I came across Walt Whitman’s 1855,  preface to Leaves of Grass:

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… “

As I thought about it, I realized,  just as having a business credo allows you to have a solid idea of where you have been and where you would like to go, a creative credo similarly, allows you to focus your priorities and inspirations.

So as of right now, these are my creative priorities:

–  Always look at the world with fresh eyes

– Question all things that are seen as fact

– Remain artistically (and personally) honest

– Explore many mediums and forms

– Allow time for non-commissioned artistic exploration

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This past January, I took a much needed few days off and traveled to London, Ontario to explore.

You can see the rest of my photographs on my flickr page.

Transition & Change.

“the other thing about being a songwriter… is that to provide ammo, you start to become an observer, you start to distance yourself. You’re constantly on alert. That faculty gets trained in you over the years, observing people and how they react to one another. Which in a way, makes you weirdly distant. You shouldn’t really be doing it. It’s a little of a Peeping Tom to be a songwriter. You start looking round, and everything’s a subject for a song.”

Kieth Richards

While in England this past summer, I read Rolling Stones guitarist, Kieth Richards’ auto-biography, Life. While I traveled to different parts of the UK, it was the perfect companion. Richards writes about his early years with the Stones, how he moved from being someone who plays primarily covers to writing his own music and lyrics and his life on the road.

As I have mentioned before, I started taking photography seriously in about 2008, so although I have learned fast, gaining experience, I am still in the early stages of my artistic/professional life. I have felt myself hit that stage where I no longer just want to look at photographs and re-create them; I find myself taking certain pictures because I crave a certain feeling or mood, not just because I have seen something like it before.

In his book, Richards documents his transition from someone who is happy to make the same sound as others who came before, to experimenting and finding a sound that expresses something personal. Reading about his artistic progression made me look at my own;

Have I hit that point where I am no longer merely reproducing the art of those I look up to?

Both personally and professionally, this past fall has been a time of awakening. I have been exposing myself to new books, artists and ideas and many changes have occurred –  some a lot harder than others. Through these past months, I have been turning to my photography, both personal and professional, for solance. I have felt a creative energy and have been exploring the medium. Theorist Susan Sontag in her book, On Photography, asserts,

“the very act of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation”

David Lynch, in his book, Catching the Big Fish(which I know I have mentioned on this blog  more than once in the past), writes about artistic struggles as something that limits  creativity.

“The more an artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be. It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.”

I found Lynch’s assertion interesting, since photography for me has always been a way to help me through times of anxiety, and that it is often considered, as Sontage asserts, a way to feel a sense of control.

But what about expressing disorientation? What about when it is your artistic life that begins to spiral out of control? Does this change the nature of your work?

Over the last half of 2011, I have undergone many changes.  I have moved back to my hometown in order to be close to my studio space.  My business moved in an unexpected direction, which thus presented new opportunities, which resulted in their own changes . Some of these changes meant saying good-bye to very close connections and completely re-thinking my approach to not only my business, but also how I view myself. I have had to face my (lack of) confidence issues and keep going on my own. Consequently, I have pushed myself more creatively and seen just how much people value my artistic perspective; I really don’t need anyone beside me to succeed.

Through all these  transitions, I have had little time for much personal shooting, writing or even reflection. When I think back on the fall, it all seems like a blur.  In the past, I  turned to photography to ease anxiety about other areas in my life. These months, have been unique for me in that, my photographic life has been through a number of significant transitions. As I reflect;

How have these transitions and change impacted my photographs?

Looking through the personal photographs from July to the past week, I can see differences.  Although I have not spent time going out to specific locations to take pictures, I traveled with my camera  and grabbed a few shots whenever I had the chance.

Since I have not had time to stage or think about much of what I have personally photographed the past couple of months, to relate to Keith Richards book (which – ironically- was something that I read before a lot of my change occurred), I feel I have not been “re-creating” or referencing other photographs because I simply haven’t had the time to do so. I have just had to take the shot instinctively, looking at every part of my life for inspiration.

Despite my apprehension about all the unexpected change and not having the time to spend “developing” my own unique photographic “vision,”  the challenges presented over this time have resulted the perfect environment  for fostering artistic and emotional growth. I also have been returning  to Yoga and meditation and exploring  Buddhist writers,  specifically, Alan Watts. I have reflected on much of what he has written about change and have used his words as a sort of mantra when struggling:

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Something New.

Since returning from England in Mid-July, I have been swept up in wedding season.

However, I have been doing some personal shooting here and there and have been experimenting with nudes, locations and natural light.

More to come.

Some more of my travels.

Some things I’ve seen so far in and around Lancashire, England

Spring Rejuvenation

Over the past couple of months, I have been working towards starting my wedding and portrait photography business, Arts and Craft Photography. Doing the paper work, website and establishing a business routine with my former assistant, now business partner, Spencer Clerk, drained both our time and energy and we both have not had as much time to put into creative shooting.

This week, I decided that I needed to get back to my own portraiture artwork and scheduled a fun shoot with one of my favorite people, Brianna.

Over the last year, I have been moving away from the fashion influence of my art and have been experimenting with ways to bring with portraiture into  fashion.

When I first experimented with fashion photography, I really looked to Richard Avedon’s 60’s starkness for inspiration. I loved using my grey background and using high key lighting.

I still love that look (its classic and soo soo cool), but lately, I have been changing. I have been looking at new influences and noticing some differences in what I have been shooting. I have been noticing that I have been moving towards softer colours and using much wider apertures to achieve more blur.

I have slowly been moving away from those “canon” photographers as my main source of inspiration (though I still love them all, and have been seeking out their art photography), as more less known photographers have been capturing the mood that I have been feeling and wanting to express.

Angela Grauerholz

Disfarmer

sylvie readman

However, I wouldn’t say I have left my 1960’s fashion roots behind, I don’t feel like I have to never return to ideas and styles. I still love the high-end look. I just am looking to new ideas and forms of expression to evolve my style and try new things. Next week, I may  be struck with an idea and end up shooting a portrait that is reminiscent of Karsh, Avedon or Leibovitz.

For me art, is about a constant flow of ideas, inspiration and experimentation. I don’t just pick one style and stick to it. I consider person in front of the lens and see how I can bring out something in them.