I’m always on the lookout for something to give me inspiration for my photography. Unless I’ve got some sort of inspiration to aspire to something I struggle to have anything desire to do anything productive. I’m not disciplined enough to stick my nose to the grindstone and plow ahead without a glorious vision in sight.
I used to draw all my inspiration from Photographic Monographs (books of an individual photographers work, Sam calls them picture books). I’d study each page and photograph to help burn the image into my mind so I’d have it influence my visual vocabulary. It worked, I’ve got thousands of images in my mind that have shaped my own particular style. But somewhere along the road I became a little immune to photographic wonders. I started to feel like I’ve seen it all. The inspiration train was grinding to a halt.
These days I find inspiration in other places. One of the most powerful sources I’ve discovered in the last four years is poetry. I didn’t have the patience to read poetry until I was in my mid-thirties. Poetry was way too slow and way too boring for me before then. But one night I was walking in the bookstore and I picked up a book called “Good Poems” By Garrison Keillor. I bought it and soaked up the poetry over the next couple of months. It electrified my creativity at the time. In fact many of those first few poems that made me sit back in my chair and think are still among my favorites. That first book started my habit of purchasing a poetry book each month for a few years. Now I’ve got a bunch of favorite poems and poets. Their words resonate in my mind and spark inspiration for me.
A great poem takes me somewhere else and fills my mind with a vivid image and feeling.
Sadly, I almost prefer reading a great poem then looking at a book of photography now. I like poems that evoke a mental image. There are lots of poets who write poetry that discuss intellectual issues, esoteric sequences of fragmented what-nots or political thought and to me those are boring. I can’t even read them.
Consider this poem, it’s one of my favorites
by Raymond Carver
I look up and see them
starting down the beach. The young man
is wearing a packboard to carry the baby.
This leaves his hands free
so that he can take one of his wife’s
hands in his, and swing his other. Anyone can see
how happy they are. And
intimate. How steady.
They are happier than anyone else, and they know
it. Are gladdened by it, and humbled.
They walk to the end of the
beach and out of sight. That’s it, I think,
and return to this thing
governing my life. But in a few minutes
they come walking back along the
The only thing different is that they have changed sides.
He is on the other side of her now,
the ocean side. She is on this side.
are still holding hands. Even more
in love, if that’s possible. And it
Having been there for a long time myself.
Theirs has been a modest
walk, fifteen minutes
down the beach, fifteen minutes back.
They’ve had to pick their way
over some rocks and around huge logs,
tossed up from when
the sea ran wild.
They walk quietly, slowly, holding hands.
They know the water is out there
but they’re so happy that they ignore it.
The love in their young faces. The surround of it.
Maybe it will last forever. If they
are lucky, and good, and forbearing. And careful. If they
go on loving
each other without stint.
Are true to each other—that most of all.
As they will be, of course, as they will be,
as they know they will be.
I go back to my work. My work goes back to me.
A wind picks up out over the
The photograph above was inspired by an image that a favorite photographer of mine August Sander did back in early 20th century. His aim was to document the range of humanity living around his hometown of Cologne, Germany. His photography inspired me for years.
“I am not concerned with providing commonplace photographs like those made in the finer large-scale studios of the city, but simple, natural portraits that show the subjects in an environment corresponding to their own individuality”.-August Sander
The photograph was done with my trusty Burke and James 8×10 Type 1 model camera. 10 inch wide field Ektar lens onto Arista 400 speed film. It is a scan of a contact print.