This month’s Ventura County Camera Club assigned topic is Abandoned. Fred Kuretski will be our guest photographer. If you live in the area, come join us Wednesday June 12 at 7pm at the Poinsettia Pavilion 3451 Foothill Rd Ventura, CA 93003.
Whether on the street or in the garden, the goal is to capture what can not be easily percieved. Sometimes it requires a keen sense of human observation while at other times a mere exploiting of the differences between the camera and the human eye. In all cases, it requires judgement – a highly critical evaluation of what makes the subject interesting to observe. For street photography it is about discerning the perfect moment in time with gesture and composition. With images like these flower macros, it is about finding an element elevating it to the point where it cannot be taken for granted.
This evening I prepared my prints for the Ventura County Camera Club’s end of year competition. The way this works is that each month (January through November) we enter up-to 3 images for critique and evaluation. A local invited judge will award a “merit” to those images they feel meet their criteria for being an exceptional image. You can enter either prints or images for digital projection. I tend to enter mostly prints. This year I received 18 merits prints and they make up quite a little portfolio. There are color street scenes, street portraits, street still lifes, B&W documentary images from the Salton Sea, one intimate landscape and even a B&W flower macro.
Next year, we will do away with the merit system and the end-of year judging in deference to open dialog. I will not miss the merit system. It turns each meeting into a mini-competition which I feel ultimately stifles creativity. The image above is NOT in the collection and wasn’t entered this year. This image, instead will go in a collection of three street still lifes showing the place of sculpture within our city and suburban landscape. I love image sequences. Soon I will post the second of the three. The third, is yet to be discovered (but I’m looking).
Though still hot and dry in Southern California, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. To celebrate I bring you a few images I shot at the Ventura County fair in August.
As I was editing these, I heard the voice of Jay Maisel as he reviewed the 10 images I had brought from home for his workshop in New York. At about the 3rd image with a fair theme he said: “Again with the fair?” (or maybe he said “Again with the circus?”). This is how different it is to live in California. Today I will head to Santa Barbara and take images of the California scene. Shorts and tee-shirts, sand and surf. The fair, the circus, or just the leisure life of Southern California.
I’m taking a few days off work and instead of my usual eat-breakfast-at-work-while-processing-email routine, I sat down for my mid-summer breakfast of peaches and yogurt with a recently purchased copy of the book: Fred Herzog: Photographs.
Fred Herzog worked professionally as a medical photographer but his personal work concentrated on capturing the street life of Vancouver. While reading the introductory material my mind began to wander. Fred Herzog had taken over 100,000 images of Vancouver over the course of time since 1953. I was wondering how Herzog determined what to include in this collection.
This thought was triggered by a couple of my nagging to-do items: developing a presentation of my work for the Ojai Photo Club and constructing a portfolio for review by David DuChemin for a visit in October.
I tend to make my images in short bursts of activity. The results are often a collection of short series of works, bound together by place or time. Often there are two or more images which are equally strong, showing single subject from different perspectives. However, there are not enough images, created over a long enough period of time, to create a real collection and I have a difficultly choosing exactly which image to show. I believe that the strength of story spans across images and not any single image.
It was while working out these ideas that I experienced a break-through moment for thinking about how to present my work.
About a year ago, I was introduced to the photography of Sam Abell, a veteran National Geographic Photographer. In Sam Abell’s book, The Life of a Photograph, he annotates the images with short notes discussing his photographic thinking. In many instances he presents two or more images side-by-side to show different visual approaches to the scene. In the book’s introduction he writes:
“Life rarely presents fully finished photographs. An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest” and he goes on to say, “Sometimes there is more than one finished photograph.”
This is his notion of the life of a photograph. The process of starting with “a single strand of visual interest” and developing that into one or more finished photographs.
It was this concept that I finally understood and say distinctly in my work. Through a seemingly random chain-reaction of thoughts, over peaches and yogurt, I was able to shed-light on my proclivity for creating small series of images and my weakness in editing down to the one single standout.