Well you are probably wondering about that title, and as well you should, it’s catchy, it’s not very telling, and I’m just positive it’s going to need some explanation so here goes…
A “friend” of mine is taking a photography class, which is good, so while we are talking I ask this person what they are doing, and they say “Today our assignment was to look at photographs”. Now of course I get excited about this thinking of all the famous photographers that have inspired me at some point, so I ask this person what photographers have they looked at. I was told that they just surf the net and looked for photos they liked. This answer bothers me a bit, since in my opinion photography and photographers are like a giant botanical garden, full of flowers and lovely trees, however just looking at work without knowing about who created it is like setting a person down in the middle of the garden, telling them to bring back a purple photo plant, and exit by the south door since the other three are filled with tigers, and man eating sheep, yet you have no sun for reference, no compass to know your direction, and no idea what the heck a purple photo plant is! (And if you have an idea what a purple photo plant is, perhaps you should lie down a bit!)
I would contend that for that particular assignment to really open the eyes, the students involved need to know about the person whose work they are admiring, since they can then use not just a photograph for inspiration or education but a total body of work. For example when asked my friend said they looked up photographs of “Fall Out Boy” well that’s wonderful, but who took that photograph, was it a cover? What kind of lighting was involved? What was the photographer’s inspiration? Normally these things could take considerable effort to find out, but lucky for us we have the World Wide Web, that miraculous thing that makes my blog possible, lets you forget about encyclopedias, and well to be honest finding a lovely recipe for chocolate chip cookies!
Some of my favorite photographers include Edward Weston, a man who not only was friends to Ansell Adam’s but continued to work even when diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. For Portrait photography three of my favorite photographers are Monte Zucker, who has passed away, he was a Canon Explorer of Light, and a genius with lighting techniques. Joe Craig, whose southern drawl and relaxed demeanor produces incredible results. And Chris Grey, who does some really amazing things using some items you wouldn’t necessarily think would work. There are many more, but this is my list, your list might or might not be the same.
My challenge to you now is simple, go research not just a photograph but the great photographers who make them, my suggestions to you are to Google Canon Explorers of Light, this is a group of people chosen by Canon, who they feel make the pinnacle of excellence, now I know some of you Nikon guys out there will be screaming that a Canon isn’t as superior to Nikon, and that there is some Nikon list, to you I say this… “My Blog, I like Canon, Nikon is stinky so Neener neener neener!!!” Seriously though I have nothing against Nikon but as stated above I’m Canon so that’s where my experience lies. Also if you see an album cover or some big name band you like a photograph, do some research, to find out who made that shot, it will inspire you and lead you down even more roads. The final person I going to recommend you go looking for is Rembrandt, yup I know he not a photographer, he was a painter, I going to trust you can figure this one out on your own 🙂
Well I think that is enough for today, to sum up, do some research, find not just the photographs but the photographers that inspire you, then learn all you can about them… You will learn something!