After my review of his first book, I received a very complimentary email from Nick thanking me for my review and expressing something between relief and gratitude that the lengths he went to to get to prints right were being appreciated. A short correspondence developed, and he has very graciously agreed to an exclusive interview for the site, which follows my review of the final book in the series – Across The Ravaged Land – and constitutes today’s post. I admit that writing the questions for that interview made me somewhat nervous, because Nick is one of my few true photographic heroes; a rockstar with integrity, talent, and beyond that, passion. Let us begin.
I think many of you will recall me being quite blown away by the power of the images and the quality of the printing/ presentation in my review of Nick Brandt’s earlier twin book On This Earth, A Shadow Falls (here). I’m fairly sure many of you were too, judging from my email traffic, the comments, and the number of orders via Amazon. I’ve turned into an enormous fan of Nick’s work: he is the photographer’s photographer, a man who clearly thinks about what he’s doing, photographs with integrity, for a reason, with an idea, with the most appropriate tool for the job, and presents the images in the best possible way. Across The Ravaged Land, the final volume in the trilogy, raises the bar even further. I spent an hour with the book and felt like I’d been smacked upside the head with the Pentax 67II he favours. Allow me to explain why.
Note: in this article, I’ve attempted to reproduce the tonal feel and colour of the images as accurately as possible, but reality is that it’s simply impossible to do so via a screen and a JPEG. Just buy the book, and from the print quality alone you’ll see why every photographer should spend some time making prints. I can’t even begin to imagine the impact of the large format images.
I must first apologize for the enormous processing backlog that has kept me from posting any images from the Amsterdam and Prague workshops several months ago to the site; the astute of you will have seen them go up on Flickr a little while ago, though.
Today’s post is a small collection of recent work – I suppose a better description is grab shots encountered in the course of life when I didn’t have another camera available to me. I make no excuses for the medium; the work stands on its own. It’s to serve as a reminder that the camera really doesn’t matter. Enjoy! MT
And now for something a little different. Shooting purely for message isn’t new to me; shooting purely for message through metaphor with found objects is, to some extent. Today’s photoessay is an experiment; make of it what you will – but I’m very curious to see what you all think…please leave a comment after the jump. And yes, the captions matter. MT
Today’s post is going to be something of a counterpoint to yesterday. Every time we frame up an image, we ostensibly try to capture something different, unique – in essence, to take a photograph that has never been taken before. But more importantly, the resultant outcome must actually look like it has never been taken before, by appearing quite distinctly different from anything else. That’s the part which is not so easy.
Each of the images in this set represents the outcome of a new experiment for me: subject, idea, execution, processing, equipment or something else. They are almost certainly unique, but I cannot say that they have not been attempted before, by somebody else. Take, for example, the fact that they were all shot on film: film is not new, even to me. But developing my own film and looking at the tonality achievable undoubtedly influences the way I process my digital files. Just as composing in squares does affects the way I see the world, too; and so on.
Timing is key, but patience is a virtue for every photographer. Very often, we see some rather stunning images of a place we’ve been to before – and wonder how on earth we managed to miss the shot; the reality is even for a static location, there’s at least one factor in play – light – and often more. But I find it often goes beyond that: we ourselves change, and this plays a part in how we perceive the world at any given moment in time. If we’ve only got the opportunity to be in a given location or shoot a certain object once – how can we ensure we at least get a shot we’re happy with, and better yet, something defining?
What a mouthful of a title. It should really also have the subtitle “what pays isn’t always what’s popular or what I want to shoot” – but that would have exceeded the string length for post titles, run off onto three lines on the title, and completely ruined the front page design aesthetic of the site.
But I think there’s really no simple or concise way to express it. What sells/ what clients pay for is not always what is popular with the viewing public; in fact, it’s usually completely uncorrelated since the commercial side of things seldom elicits an emotional response in the way personal photographs do. And on top of that, what photographers actually enjoy photographing is seldom what pays – sometimes also because the nature of the subject matter means that it has no commercial value in the first place. So, as a commercial photographer, what do we do?
A couple of months ago, I spent some time in a theme park – not because I particularly wanted to go on any of the rides or because I felt like I needed a little escapism, but because I was teaching a workshop as part of the Maybank Photo Awards 2013, and Universal Studios Singapore was a sponsor. Being there made me realize a number of things.
My earlier article on why we photograph led me to spend a little more time thinking specifically about what it is about the photographic process that is enjoyable. It seems that it’s engaging on many levels – firstly, there’s the anticipation of buying new equipment, and continually pursuing gear – I suppose you could call that the ‘collectors’ itch’. As much as I see cameras as tools, I admit there’s a certain satisfaction in finding, acquiring and owning/ using something rare; the F2 Titan, for example. Like every other accessory or object we choose to use – it signals something about the tastes of the owner. (There’s also the ego-stroking fact that it promotes jealousy amongst other photographers, but I’m going to ignore that and say it really is all about the image.