Saturday, June 27, 2009

Personal Influences - Part 2C

Bizarro World

Reach Through the fog that fools us all.

Reality is not man-made. The literal world that we see and
know every day is deceptive and fast disappearing.

Walk carefully the path of solid ground: discipline,
friendships, faith, and love of self and others are
your only hope.

From Poems: Solitary View

Karen Bruner Stroup

The photograph to the left is "Tryke" by Mike Stroup. (click on the photograph to enlarge)

This is the last post about my personal influences.

Mike and Karen Stroup are long-time friends. Mike is an excellent photographer (get busy Mike, we are waiting to see new work!) and Karen is a very talented writer.

Mike and I go back to the middle 1980s as members of Photo Venture. We hung several shows and worked on projects such as "A Day in the Life of Broad Ripple" together. Mike was also a charter member of Invision. To this day, he is a member of that organization and only because of him does Invision continue to exist.

A couple of years ago Mike shared a book with me that he had made of his photographs. He encouraged me to do the same. This started me back on the track of making photographs. I had stopped photographing because of reasons that I don't need to go into here. But, I had bought a digital camera and had been amassing plenty of digital files with which I had done nothing. So, thanks to Mike, Satch and I decided to do a book together with a selection of her current work and an edited selection of pictures that I had made over the past five years.

On a trip to Michigan I photographed at the Sunset Junque Shoppe (SSJS). Feeling a sense of renewal that day I decided to again make photographs. Again, later in the year, I made more pictures at the SSJS. I felt very good about the work and sensed a turning point in my photography. I decided to do a book. I asked Karen if she would write something for the book if I sent her the images to view. She asked what I wanted and I replied that she could write whatever she cared to write. Karen wrote six beautiful poems that got at the essence of what I was trying to convey in my photographs. The collaboration turned out wonderfully. I hope that we can do something with the book in the future. Time will tell.

The bottom line is that Mike and Karen provided me with a creative kick in the pants and a lot of what my work is about today is owed to them.

My wife Satch bought a Diana+ (a plastic camera) for me as a Christmas present. I had been struggling with what I wanted to convey in my photographs. I used Adobe Photoshop to work on the pictures from the Sunset Junque Shop to gain the feeling that I wanted but felt that was not going to work for the long haul. Digital photography was great, but it fell short with what I wanted in my photographs. Satch didn't want to see me go back to straight photography, She felt the technical side held me back, and she was correct. So, she thought a toy camera that had very few adjustments and a plastic lens was just the ticket and would free up the creative aspect of my picture making. I haven't turned back since. As I mentioned in an earlier post, David Michael Kennedy suggested using a Holga. So now the Diana+ and the Holga are the only cameras that I use creatively. These were the tools for which I had always been searching.

Ted Orland came to Indianapolis via the Eiteljorg Museum to give a couple of lectures and a workshop. Ted was an assistant to Ansel Adams for many years and knew all of the players in what I term the golden age of photography. Ted is an excellent photographer and an exceptional writer. Having the chance to speak with Ted about many of the great photographers that I have looked up to and get the real story was both interesting and inspiring. He gave a short workshop on Photoshop which opened my eyes to some available techniques that fit right in with the work I was doing. And, his book "Art and Fear" is necessary reading for anybody that wants to produce creative work. Ted got my juices flowing and opened my eyes to many possibilities.

That wraps up the posts about my personal influences. Whew.

Postscript: Earlier today while I was putting this post together, I thought about a fellow photographer that has since passed, David Lee Miller. David's photography was both poetic and lyrical. I miss David.

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