Recently I had some time to process some of my personal landscapes I’ve shot in the past few years. I love landscapes and they are actually what got me “into” photography in the first place. The particular images I was working on were from a business trip to San Francisco a couple years back. My rep at the time had gathered up all her stable of photographers from around the country for a few days of portfolio meetings at SF agencies. Here are some happy snaps from the trip…
This last shot was a promo we had done for Clorox while up in San Francisco. From the left: Me, Lenlee Jenckes, Rhea Anna, Darryl Bernstein, Wendi Nordeck and James Quantz. Man, that was a fun trip, but that’s ancient history and is nowhere near where I wanted to go with this post.
Anywaaaaaay, recently, I started thinking about how shooting landscapes and scenics had been what initially ignited my love for photography. As a kid, I’d poured over the beautiful scenics in my dad’s Arizona Highways and wanted to make beautiful photgraphs like Joseph and David Muench did for the magazine.
Not long thereafter, my family was taking a trip to Europe and my dad entrusted me with the family 35mm film camera, an Argus-Cosina. I was only 10. That was a big commitment on my dad’s part. I took good care of it and managed to take some pretty nice photographs as well. Not just happy snaps but compelling images. Whenever I was taking photographs I had this wonderful feeling. The joy of creating. I was a photographer.
I thought more about my love of photography. Was it really a love of photography? Or something else? I think what I actually love is the entire process of creating visual art, not just the photography part. Don’t get me wrong. I love the shoot and the energy that comes with that whether it be the frenetic energy of a car shoot with talent to the calm energy of a sunrise landscape shoot. Photography is really only part of the process. These days so much of the creative process happens after the “shutter is pressed.” Personally, I love to experiment after the fact in Photoshop and see if I can come up with ways to improve the feeling I am trying to convey in my images. I’ll often sit there on the computer for many hours playing with images, late into the night with a steady IV-drip of Diet Coke with Lime, until the call for sleep is stronger than that to play, I mean create.
But, all too often digital post production processing and image manipulation is frowned upon as being fake and a shortcut or crutch of some kind. Far from it in my opinion. Of course the iPhone-photographic-effects-du jour can be easily overdone, and often are. Capture One, Lightroom, Photoshop or whatever software you choose is simply another tool in the arsenal of the modern-day photographic artist. Know how to use your tools and they can be very powerful, but just like any tool they are often misused.
Anyway, as I recently toiled away on the computer with these files… Wait, “toiled” is not the right word because it implies I was working or at least, not enjoying what I was doing. Quite the contrary. I was really enjoying myself. That feeling had crept back in. The feeling of losing all time and space when you are doing something that you love. That creative passion that drives you to make something beautiful was there, propelling me. The feeling was there. The joy of creating. I was an artist.