10 Aug Film & Vision – Finding Inspiration

Source: Fujifilm Insider

Once upon a time – around six years ago in fact – I was doing some shelving at the local library in the arts and humanities section. It was a new section to me and as I hit that sweet, sweet Dewey Decimal number of 779.92 I pulled a big photography book out from the trolley, ready to shelve. I paused. Beneath the peeling sheen of the protective plastic wrap was a picture of a parking lot in a Mid-Western town, beside a street dominated by a sign reading Samibo’s. The sky was cloudy, the colours faded, the scene devoid of shadow or drama. Yet I was drawn in. I flipped the book open and began to skim through the pages. A glance at the clock, half an hour until lunch. I knew then what I would be reading over a sandwich.

The book was Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places. If you go right back to the beginning of my blog in the archives, in one of my very first posts, I enthuse at length about it. It’s the book that got me into photography and remains a strong inspiration in my photography. From that time onwards I went from attending photo exhibitions to volunteering at galleries, buying dozens of monographs by great photographers, trying to figure out how to make images I could look upon with real satisfaction. In the previous post I talked about how shooting with Fujifilm’s custom film profiles can put you in mind of trying to see through the eyes of a photographer who inspires you. In this post I want to talk about that process further, about what happens before you even raise that camera to your eye. The key ingredient to learning how to write or direct a movie is to read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies. Then you can study them, take them apart and try to figure out how the writer or director did it. I feel in a way it’s the same with photography. You have to build that reference library of photographs within your head, an index of images ready to be recalled from memory, triggered when your eyes fall upon something that sparks an association with a great photograph, a great photographer…

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