Last month myself and a few other fellow VCCC members braved the freeways, metro, and the heat to join a photo walk with the online photography magazine community of Faded & Blurred run by Jeffrey Saddoris and Nichole “Nikki” Rae. I was introduced to F&B, as it is known, by a couple of other young local photographers and communicators Frederick Van Johnson (This Week in Photography) and Ibarionex Perello (The Candid Frame). As is usual in life, one connection leads to another.
The day we walked it was hot, LA summer hot. We had just about succumbed to the heat when we decided to brave one more block into the back part of China Town. Past the food and cocktail demonstration, which was part of the Hot Summer Nights festival going on, we spied a plain white-walled storefront on 945 Chung King Road with the most amazing surfing images I’ve ever seen; big, beautiful B&W prints of amazing surf and surfers. It was the studio of Ed Freeman and he was showing his Surfing collection.
We looked and we commented and struck up a casual conversation. We were all struck by quality and detail of the images we were viewing. After the casual talk died down, I asked Ed a little more about how he made his living as a photographer. He explained that he did a lot of studio shooting and stock and taught courses on Photoshop that he called “Lying, Cheating, and Stealing”. Ok, I’m no stranger to using Photoshop to accentuate the mood and impact of an image. We all tweak the white balance, increase contrast and saturation, dodge and burn to change which portions of the image standout and direct the viewer. But as I continued to talk with Ed, he was talking about much more – so much more.
Stormy skies were added, waves accentuated, surfers moved and added, and compositions were recomposed. And I had no clue. At first I thought about his Photoshop mastery, these images are incredibly well executed. Quickly, however, I began to think more about his artistry. How did he know which sky to use, where to add another surfer, or how to exaggerate the waves? This is something that reflects the vision of the artist and not the skills of execution.
Ed puts it this way on his site: “This is not reportage photography; it is meant as fine art, and I’ve taken all the liberties in edit and retouching that are permitted to artists but forbidden to journalists.” In person he was more succinct as he retold one of the surfer’s reaction to the imagery; “This may not be what it looked like, but this is what it felt like”.
Please check out Ed Freeman’s portfolio at edfreeman.com. You can also read more about his approach to his surfing images on his blog.