Influences: Martin Parr

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Martin Parr took a technology that was seen as a waste of time by critics, and jumped into it with a deep passion for trying something different. As a renowned street photographer, he wasn’t afraid of what anybody else thought and used the technology that was available and new. I think that is something that everyone should take a lesson from. Technology is always moving forward and even if it may seem untraditional or a waste, there is no harm in trying as you may create something beautiful. As did Martin Parr.

Influences: Man Ray

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Since I started doing still image as opposed to moving image, I have been extremely interested in studio portraiture. My biggest inspiration for this genre of work is Man Ray. His lighting skills are second to none. As a modernist photographer, he liked to use light to distort his images. Pre-modern portraits were typically painted to make the subject look powerful. However, Man Ray uses his camera to shoot them looking vulnerable. He wasn’t afraid to show the world something different, which is something I will carry with me throughout my professional career. A journalist once asked Man Ray how he lit his subjects, and he replied with ‘I can’t remember.’ As foolish as this is, it’s also brilliant as it teaches you to experiment. It also makes his photographs unique.

Influences: Sam-Taylor Wood

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When I was studying my pre-degree, I became very interested in performance art. One of the performance artists I became fond of, was Sam-Taylor Wood. Now, Sam-Taylor Johnson. I was completely intrigued by her work and the way that she expressed her femininity and herself. She did this in a series of self-portraits, the portraits have been exhibited in galleries all over the world. One of my favourites is a portrait of her, holding Robert Downy Jnr in the fetal position, during the time of his addiction to Heroine. This photograph is incredibly inspiring because it puts someone who is completely vulnerable and poisoned by a vicious addiction and makes them look human. This has taught me to treat my work with empathy, and to bring out something real to provoke reaction in my work.

Influences: Ansel Adams

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Ansel Adams is one of history’s most influential landscape photographers, his most famous landscape being The Tentons and the Snake River (1942). This photograph was commissioned by the Department of the Interior as part of a National Park brief. The photographs were owned by the US government, but Adams had a specific time to work on. This meant that he could take his own photographs in between his contracted hours. The Tentons and the Snake River (1942) was the photograph that made the most money in this series, however the US Government filed a lawsuit against Adams for selling their property. After the court case, they used the negatives to distinguish when the photograph was taken. It was found that the photographs did in fact belong to Ansel Adams. This is extremely important and I learned to always log my work, digital and analogue.

Influences: Sebastião Salgado

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Genesis, a photographic homage to our planet in its natural state. Sebastião Salgado is one of the most influential photographers in our time and his broad range of photographic projects, have been a foundation in realism photography and photojournalism. In 1970, at the age of twenty six, Salgado placed his eyes over the viewfinder of a camera for the first time and would never see the world the same again. “I looked through a lens and ended up abandoning everything else.” As a young economist, Salgado was infatuated by the natural world and the destructive nature of human beings in their own socio-economic conditions. This highly influenced his future career as a photographer and inspired his first two major photographic projects; ‘Workers’ and ‘Migrations’. Salgado became physically sick due to him photographing too much death and destruction. So much so, that his doctor told him if he didn’t stop, he would die. “He says ‘You are not sick. What happened was you saw much death, you are dying. You must stop. Stop!’” In the early 90’s, Salgado returned to his home in Brazil and decided to try and heal the world by undoing some of the damage. By 2003, his charity single handedly restored almost 50% of the rainforest in Brazil. In 2004 Salgado picked up his camera for the first time in almost a decade and began to photograph the world as though it had been untouched by economic growth. This project became Genesis. His photos are incredible aesthetically and I’ve learned a lot of technical skills from Salgado, but ultimately and most importantly, my lessons from him lie in ethics.

Influences: Jackson Pollock

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I have also recently found inspiration in Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). He was an American Abstract Expressionist Artist known as ‘Jack the Dripper.’ This name nickname was given to him by art critics after he developed the dripping technique to create much of his artwork. The dripping technique was an evolved form of Breton’s Automatism. Pollock would lay out huge canvasses onto the floor and drip liquid paint onto its surface. Using this technique, Pollock believed that he was inside the painting, that his artwork was a part of himself. “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.” (Pollock, 1951) His paintings taught me not to be afraid of trying something new in terms of technique. After all, it could be the foundation of something amazing.

Influences: Frank O’Hara

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As well as literature, I am a huge fan of poetry. My favourite poem is by a Post-Modernist American poet named Frank O’Hara, Why I am Not a Painter.

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”

“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

This is a poem about the creative process and how inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. O’Hara wrote this poem about his collection of poems Oranges: 12 pastorals and a painting named Sardines by his friend, Mike Goldberg. This poem taught me the importance of evolving my work, I start off with a small idea for a project and eventually it becomes so much more.