2 GALLERIES - 4 SEASONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography Through Inspiration and Exploration

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Our Blog

An ongoing series of informative entries

FAIRY TALES

25 May 2020

I often create images that are inspired by fairy tales, fables or myths. Fairy tales are a way of connecting us to our childhood and taking the mind to a place that it does not often get to experience as an adult. Photography, for me at least, is about learning how to access different types of creativity and how to apply those is physical photographic form.


Think about your childhood. I bet it was free from thinking about paying the bills, housework or being practical. Anything goes as a child, and why fairy tales are such inspiration. Fairy tales put us into the mind-set of a child, and there are few better mind-sets to inhabit when creating.

MAKING YOUR ART YOURS

19 May 2020

Using parts of dark art and surrealism can help you widen your visual skills and conceptual inspiration. To be able to see beyond what is obvious and into a more creative place is rewarding and beneficial to all artists, especially photographers.


With a photograph, the scene is laid out in front of us. While we can construct the scene however we want, it is rare that someone has a completely blank canvas to work from. If a photographer can transform their way of seeing into one similar to that of a painter, suddenly a world of possibilities opens up for us. By this I mean that painters start with a blank canvas and the only thing dictating what the final product will be is how the painter moves their hand.


Photography for me is a creative outlet without limitation – only those of my imagination. Much like a painter starts from scratch and then fills the canvas, I work from scratch in my mind to build an image. What I tend not to do is “take a picture”. I construct images instead, and whether the viewer sees them as art or not is a different matter.


All photographers can train themselves to think this way, and to see beyond the frame. By believing that anything is possible, a photographer can begin to construct their own reality. It might look very similar to the world we see around us, or be entirely different.


The logical question here is technical and lies in wondering how to bring these ideas together and into life – saying something and then doing it are two very different things.


By practicing, experimenting and failing, I was able to learn how to create my own world.

DARK ART AND SURREALISM

11 May 2020

A wee while ago I had someone approach me concerned for my mental well-being. Intrigued I asked why the question? Apparently to this person my photography was disturbing.


I guess, to be honest, dark art and surrealism are my passions in photography. Photography allows me to twist everyday reality into something more unusual enabling me to explore new worlds. Surrealism allows artists to bend truths and capture moments that could otherwise not exist.


While my images are conceptually dark, they are visually beautiful. I have been surrounded by death and dark things for the majority of my life – it intrigues me and I am not scared of the darker things in life.


The heart of surrealistic art is to create dream-like images filled with juxtapositions, to bend reality to my liking, and to capture what cannot be captured naturally. These are all different paths that surrealism can take.


Because surrealism deals so often with juxtapositions, it is easy to pair dark art with surrealism. So much of dark art is about understanding a different part of ourselves, either as the artist or the viewer. It is about accessing a part of the mind that gets used less frequently on a regular basis, and allowing ourselves to go there.


Dark art often has a negative reputation, as it can be misconstrued as grotesque, horrific or violent. While it certainly can be those things, dark art is so much more – it offers a different point of view seldom expressed and has the power to present something very different, thus standing out from the crowd.

READING IMAGES

04 May 2020

Being able to read an image (similar to a book) is an invaluable skill. It allows us to take each and every part of an image and look at it in depth in a more critical and meaningful way. Looking deeper into an image will highlight the reasons why we are drawn to or repulsed by something. This is incredibly important in order to not only understand imagery better in general, but also understand our own pictures in a more personal and critical way.


In learning to break down images to their basic parts, you are teaching yourself both how to create, and to recognize why you create.


The way a viewer looks at an image is very influenced by the colour a picture presents, so you owe it to your art to make conscious decisions about the elements you use in your compositions.

DIFFERENT USES OF COLOUR

Colour is often the most striking element of an image. Everyone has a different personal association with colour so its use in an image is an important choice to make.


Knowing how a certain colour might universally affect people is a great way of putting deeper meanings into your imagery that more people will understand. Colour is so deeply related to symbolism that knowing how a certain colour works can add a lot to an image.

EMBRACING YOUR INNER 'WEIRDO'

27 April 2020

Sometimes you will have ideas that are totally out there. To free yourself to embrace your inspiration, you’ll need to first trust yourself. This can be a huge challenge to your creativity, especially if it is not your typical approach.


By embracing your inner weirdo and letting it out you challenge viewers to see things in a new way – you stretch their imagination.


Sometimes photography can be seriously competitive – challenging someone’s perception of the world through your photography can make your work stand out from the rest and make it more memorable or refreshing.


It took me a while, but I have reached the point where I really no longer care if the viewer likes my image or not.  As the first viewer of an image it is me I have to please, and if I don't like one of my creations then no other viewer is going to see it.


In our early days as a photographer, as we are learning, it is good to listen and learn from more experienced photographers as to what they think about your image regarding what works and what doesn't and the reasons why, but eventually this can have the effect of us as artists creating for others and not for ourselves.  Not a good thing for creativity in my opinion!


So, go ahead, embrace that inner weirdo lurking within and let them out!

CREATING NEW WORLDS

20 April 2020


So much of the battle within photography is about getting the viewer to believe in the image.


With most great images, the viewer is able to see beyond the picture and into the dynamic and interesting world that the photographer has created or captured.


I use locations that are accessible to me (and most other people), use props that I either already own or pick up on my journeys, and textures I have captured over the years. It’s what I do with these individual pieces and how I put them together into something distinctive and different to our reality that makes them uniquely mine.


The essence of my inspiration is to create new worlds within my images – to make the viewer see beyond the photograph and into the world of the story.


The created world needs to be believable to me for my imagery to work. Even if what I am photographing couldn’t exist in real life, it must be able to believably exist in the world of my imagery.


Making the unbelievable believable:

 Consider rooting your images in reality – while creating a completely abstract piece can give a powerful result, a better effect for me, is to give some element of the familiar to draw in the audience.

 Make the most of colour casts, washes and light effects. Few things are as effective as colour at manipulating the emotions of the viewer.


Sometimes I use texture as an image overlay in order to give a “painterly” feel to my image or cohesiveness to the elements it contains. This separates my work a little more from a traditional photograph and blurs the line between media, which is another method of creating a new world within an image. Another technique is to turn some images into brushes in Photoshop to give another feel to this element and a different feel to the end result.

FINDING INSPIRATION

13 April 2020

INSPIRATION IS EVERYWHERE

Inspiration is everywhere – we just have to look for it.


All artists at some time end up frustrated by a lack of inspiration. We all need help sometimes finding it, but there are techniques that help a lot, luckily.


In general, they involve changing our personal perspective. Human beings are creatures of habit, and breaking some of those habits might well be the key to opening up our minds to find inspiration.


Complete failure can sometimes be the best form of inspiration because it pushes us further, to try harder, and learn more.


If we break up our routines we start to break out of our comfort zones. Once out there, make a conscious effort to notice things that are new and unusual.


Taking this one step further, try to find inspiration in the mundane.  I go running through my local forest and just let my mind wander - thoughts come in and go out.  Those that I find intriguing I recall at a later date and write them down or attempt to draw them on a piece of paper so I can refer back to them.  For this reason, I normally have pen and paper relatively close by and always in my camera bag, especially when travelling.


In order to find inspiration you have to be open to seeing things in a new way – thus allowing your mind to open up.


I believe there are two types of inspiration:

1. Internal – comes to us from our own experiences and perceptions of the world,

2. External – this comes from other people. There is a fine line between putting our own art into the world and regurgitations of other people’s work. The line is easier crossed the more inspiration an artist gets from external sources.


FINDING YOUR PASSION

Finding out where your real passions lie gives you the advantage of having a path to follow in the development of your art.


To find out what you are really interested in, ask yourself if you had one full day to do whatever you wanted, without limitations, what would you spend it doing?


Whatever it is, there is no right or wrong answer. The answer you come up with is your stepping stone to figuring out what your passion in photography is.

YOUR STYLE

06 April 2020

CREATIVITY CAN BE LEARNED

Creativity is the application of a thought, while inspiration is the force that originates that thought. We all have our own ways of bringing forth our creativity; the key is learning how to embrace our own personal style.


Creativity is often nothing more than problem-solving. To come up against a problem during a project and then figure out a way to resolve the issue: that is being creative.


DEFINING YOUR STYLE

Having a recognizable style, no matter what your genre of photography is, is essential for understanding how you need to visually interpret your inspiration.


Try defining your style using a series of 5 to 10 words. These words are not only how you should see your photography, but how you want other people to see it. Try to stay true to these keywords, at least in part, for each image you create.


My keywords:

Dark, mysterious, creepy, timeless, whimsical, surreal, fantasy, texture, haunting, colourful.


Being able to define your own style is very important, because if you do not define your style, as soon as your work starts getting attention, someone else will define it for you.

Style doesn’t necessarily have to be a consistent visual representation, but can include the ideas and motivation behind the work.


Once you know what you want to photograph, ask yourself why. Once you know the reason behind doing something, you know the core of your inspiration and style, and can make a conscious decision to focus on this in your work.


There are always ways to adapt your style to enhance what makes you happiest about creating.

INSPIRATION

29 March 2020

Being able to identify what makes us happy is the first step toward finding inspiration.


To be constantly and creatively inspired is a wonderful state to be in, and leads to a happy, bright and varied life.


To be able to find inspiration anywhere, anytime can be the difference between feeling fulfilled and feeling something vital is missing in life. Getting from one to the other is as simple as adjusting the way we think or approach things in life.


The ability to see the world in a different and more inspiring manner is something worth striving for, because if we can achieve this, then our creativity will know no bounds.


We all relate to the world in a unique way, and this perspective can be used to understand what motivates us, and can help us to figure out how we personally handle inspiration.


EVERYONE IS CREATIVE

There is a perception that creativity comes to only a select few. I believe this is an excuse of people who have simply not yet found how they are creative.


At the heart of our creativity should be one underlying question: what makes us happy? The first step to understanding how to unleash creativity is to understand that there is no rule dictating what is and is not creative.

Creativity can come from anywhere, take any form, and most importantly, comes from within. Creativity is not a competition.


My Photographic History

25 March 2020

From an early age I knew I was relatively “arty”; I also learnt that so long as there was a ruler about I was pretty good at drawing and so set about studying towards a career in architecture.  Holding down four jobs wasn't sufficient for me to be able to pursue this so into the sciences I went.


Still holding those four jobs down, I eventually saved enough to purchase my first camera.  I had no idea what I was doing technically but had a heap of fun. The only bummer was having to pick up extra work to now pay for the film I was churning through and, of course, its development.


I had found an outlet for my artistic, creative side!


Skipping forward I learnt that NZ didn’t really invest in its scientists in the way that I needed to allow me to stay in NZ. An opportunity arose which saw me change direction and go from Marine Chemist to Forensic Scientist.


I joined the Police as a Fingerprint Examiner. During this time I suffered from Jarvis syndrome!  My crime scene sketches required the use of a ruler to save me as like Jarvis here, I can’t free-hand draw!  My photographic skills in this position were increased in ways that few other jobs would allow. Going along to crime scenes, especially those of a serious nature meant that an accurate record of evidence needed to be made.  Once located some fingerprints proved challenging to photograph and so specialised forms of lighting and filtering were required in their application.


My introduction to digital photography occurred around the same time I was asked to travel to Phuket to help identify the victims of this tsunami.  Because of my photographic endeavors I was unofficially chosen to assist the photographer on my first rotation to Phuket. This extended into recording such things as our working conditions, the techniques used and a daily diary of achievements.


With time and loads of practice, I have gained experience in most forms of photography from weddings, to births, to events such as school concerts, theatrical plays and commemorative services, to promotional shoots to interior design photography.  I love creative photography as I don't cope with limitations of expression particularly well any more.  In the coming weeks I will be blogging about creativity, my processes and influencers.


I recently found a quote from Jerry Uelsman and I think it sums up what I do quite nicely and would like to end with it.  It goes…”A camera is truly a licence to explore”, a sentiment I concur with wholeheartedly as this describes the way I have lived my photographic life.