June 30, 2010

Q&A with Clay


A woman who discovered my work in Tom Ang's excellent book Digital Photography Masterclass wrote me this morning with some questions. I figured I'd share my responses publicly. While her questions are good, my answers aren't the most eloquent or deep, but it's what came out in the five minutes it took to share.

Do you edit any of your photographs? and if you do, how so?

I edit my photos in the sense that I choose my favorites. In terms of image manipulation, I keep it to the bare minimum. I judge a photo to be good if I don't have to crop and can evoke all I want with as little adjustment as possible. Increasingly I am doing all my image tweaks in Lightroom and not even bringing them into Photoshop. Less is more for me.

Do you try to convey a message through you photographs or do you just take them because you think that its attractive? Do you have any intentions with the way your photographs are taken and the areas you take them in?

I am drawn to making pictures for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it's a quirky landscape and other times it's a remarkable face. Those things are all dependent on timing and where I find myself. Attractive is a tricky word. I am attracted to lots of things that don't always conform to what is classically attractive.

I take most of my photos with the intention to share or honor. I am always aware that my pictures will be seen by others so I try to make images that are strong and compelling. But I am also aware that the people in my pictures need to be respected. Most of my portraits are a kind of visual dialogue between me and the subject. Since those interactions are usually steeped in gratitude and curiosity, the resulting images tend to share those traits. Make sense?

What inspired you to go into photography and into this style of it particularly?

Photography is a whole lot easier than drawing and painting and a lot more individual than filmmaking. It was a natural fit for me. Combining it with my love of travel, that was that. I don't think of myself as a travel photographer. I'm just a photographer who reflects in my pictures a life led out and about.

I'm planning to take photographs in your style - well this style - and it would be great if I could get some advice on what I should do.

Photography has an uncanny ability to reflect the mind and intentions of the person holding the camera. Your "style" will develop with time and with your ability to clarify your intentions. Master the basics of exposure, etc., but then forget it and go make pictures that express your heart/mind/body/vision. Allow yourself to explore, question, assert, grow and celebrate with your chosen art.

Don't forget too that this is a business. Get your fiscal house in order so that you can make pictures always.

Hope this helps.

Make pictures.

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