As an Apprentice of The Arcanum we get presented all sorts of tasks and exercises, on our journey to become better artists. At my current level, I have to focus more on what is “me” and “my” art in what I do.
Even before I got the assignment from my Master Robin Griggs Woods, I had started down the road of ‘who am I’? It’s not as easy as you might think, realizing who you are, and what you do, which is uniquely you.
Truth is, that I find myself most creative, when I am sitting in front of Lightroom and Photoshop, not when I am out shooting photos. I get ideas on processing techniques, combining techniques in new ways, trying out all sorts of things. Some photos are fairly straightforward, while others are much more time-consuming, and require that I used my creativity.
Some of my photos, I spend weeks, months, even years before I get the final idea. The images may pop in my head, and then I think of ways to process them for a while. Forget about them, and then come to think about them again. Try some stuff, it might not work, and I shelve the photo again for a while. And then suddenly one day, I have the idea. This photo stars above London is a great example of this process. It took me months and many failed attempts before I finally made something I was happy with.
What I have come to realize is, that I see a difference in ‘just’ processing a photo, into something nice. The other day I processed two nice photos from London, but I didn’t get the kick out of, that I wanted. I thought about it. Why was it, that two perfectly great photos, full of city lights didn’t turn me on? It should be my favorite sort of photos. After thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion, that making the photos, only required Craft and Skills, not creativity.
The way I had shot the photos, and the light I had shot them in, didn’t leave much room for processing creatively. And because it was a standard processing technique, I could do in my sleep, it didn’t turn me on.
This fact has changed the way I see myself as a Fine Art photographer. I need room for creativity, in what I do. I get bored by doing the same routine stuff every day.
I have known for quite some time, that I do like to play with the viewers mind. I add elements, enhance elements beyond what is realistic. I may over enhance shadows, add light sources or change colors. This way I can play tricks on the viewers mind. His sub consciousness will detect, that something is not right and some even see what it is. What happens, when I do that, is the image will get an artificial look to it, maybe like a painting or at least border lining to surrealism.
In the photo in the top, of the Japanese Twoer in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, I have enhanced the shadows cast by the group of people. The shadows are far stronger than the original photo showed. Another thing I have done is to remove almost all color, in the lower part of the image. There is quite a lot of colored light, and it shows on the ground.
I find these elements very much me, other people may do it too or do similar things, but it is something that I like to do, and that I have found out on my own and integrates into many of my images.
On the London image, I added light beams on top of the London Tower Bridge, even though there are no light beams.
While these small techniques do not dictate a style, they are a part of me and my art. I use them in many different kinds of photos, but they are a part of my images, in general. I have some other techniques, which I also use, to make my own style of photos. It does not necessarily mean that my photos, end up looking the same, because they don’t, but you will find elements in each, that come from the same core.
What I am beginning to realize, is the elements in what I do, that make my photos into ‘my art’, as an expression of me. I like to tease and be surreal, I always loved surreal artists and texts, and, therefore it is a part of the photos that I make.