Who inspires you…

I don’t read many ‘trade’ magazines, but I do subscribe to a couple of “landscape photography” orientated ones, I’ve been doing photography full time for many years and before that I’d done it as a hobby since I was in my late teens, I did an advanced photography course at college and I’m pretty confident I know the fundamental ins and outs of how a camera works which, apart from a sideways step, hasn’t changed significantly since Napolean took his first selfie, so reading another (most likely copy and pasted) article on hyperlocal distance holds no appeal.

What I do enjoy seeing is other peoples photographs and often the story behind taking them, anyones no matter whether they are a self proclaimed ‘leading photographer’ (always makes me smile that one, there aren’t any league tables in this genre that I know of!) or a guy/gal that only does it on weekends, both are capable of producing work that impresses me, of course both can do the opposite too.

One common question that landscape photography magazines seem to ask when interviewing someone is “Which photographers inspire you?” (or similar), that got me thinking:

  • What I’d personally answer in this scenario
  • Should they re-word the question

The reply I would honestly give is ‘Nobody, Everyone, I don’t seek inspiration’

I don’t really like the word ‘Inspire’ in this situation, it can easily be confused with ‘Aspire’ which gives an indication of the desire to somewhat emulate or copy a photograph or style you’ve seen by someone, which I don’t want or do. ‘Admire and/or Respect’ is how I’d more accurately describe other photographers whose work I generally like. Another reason is that I’m also inspired sometimes by seeing an image I don’t like, a bad photo of a good location for example.

Under Oak II

I once sold a print to a lady who after delivery sent me an email saying it’d arrived safely and she really liked it etc; she went on to say “It reminds me of a photo by Michael Kenna” I replied ‘Well if you like his so much why didn’t you buy one from him’……No of course I didn’t, she meant it as a compliment and I was very flattered and told her as much, what did amuse though is that he predominantly shoots in black and white using a 1:1 format, she’d bought a colour print in 3:2, the subject was trees, which we both do, so maybe that’s what she meant! I highly rate Michaels work, I’ve got a couple of his books, he doesn’t “inspire” me in any way that I’m conscientiously aware of, if I’d never seen any of his photos before I’d still do what I do the way I’d do it, the thing I like most about his work is the way he frames a shot and that’s something I’ve always considered as a very important aspect in my own work, hopefully that was the intent of her association.

Toward Ebenezer

I’m not going to start listing famous photographers as I’ve said above I can get equal enjoyment seeing a photo from someone I’ve never heard of before, I am however going to mention one guy who I have gotten inspiration from, sort of, and if I had to answer the above question truthfully this would be him: Gregory Crewdson – It’s at this point that any of you that have seen his work, and then mine here, are now probably scratching your heads! Two things: A few years ago I saw a TV programme about him when he was shooting his series ‘Beneath the Roses’, specifically an image he was creating of a street scene at night in the snow, it’s on the slipcase of his book that sits in my bookshelf, his attention to detail was incredible right down to having the council (or whatever it’s called in the U.S.) adjust the phasing of the traffic lights so that they all showed orange for the photo. Detail is an element I pay careful consideration to in both my commercial and landscape/art work. The second thing is the way he uses light in his photographs, although he often manipulates by way of balancing natural and artificial light it’s his consideration of light in a scene which is the thing I respect most.

There are many many photographs I want to take, places I want to go, it’s time and money I need, I’ve already got the inspiration.

The two photographs included in this post are about as close as I’ve got to the style of the photographers I’ve mentioned. The first is a black & white photo, square format, of an old oak tree next to a river on a misty morning, I’m sure Michael would approve. The second is a night street scene, artificial lights both seen and unseen illuminating the scene with great care taken over what details, both large and small, appear in the frame. Gregory would no doubt include a human element with a hidden meaning.

I was going to finish this post with links to some (less well known) photographers whose work I admire. I’ve decided not to as there’s many and I don’t want to upset anyone, some of whom I know personally, by missing them off. But to end, and to balance the fact I’ve linked to two guys above, some of my favourite photographers are women.

Some magazines worth reading:

Outdoor Photography This is a real, printed on paper (digital version also available), magazine for landscape and nature photography and is one of the best in this genre, in my opinion.

Landscape Photography Magazine & On Landscape Both online digital magazines that show the work of photographers worldwide.




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