People who have inspired me…..
A lot of people ask who inspired me. To be honest when I first starting shooting, I was only influenced by music photography. I would see photographs by Jim Marshall, Ross Halfin, Neil Zlowzower and was fortunate to be friends with music photographer Ken Settle. Seeing their work really helped inspire me to be the best photographer that I could be. Especially Ken Settle, who has been a good friend and influence to me throughout my 30 years as a photographer. As I became a professional and got older, I started really appreciating the history of photography and film. I recently seen photos from a session Irving Penn did for Vogue in Japan in the late 1960s and It made me feel inspired all over again. Unfortunately I’m not a fan of a lot of new digital photography. Although Digital is an amazing tool to work with for a seasoned pro film photographer, I feel its made a lot of the newer photographers undisciplined, with boring images and no sense of their own style.
Here are a few of the photographers who will always inspire me..
Ansel Adams.. A true pioneer of photography. Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American photographer, best known for photographs of California’s Yosemite Valley. Adams also authored numerous books about photography, including his trilogy of technical instruction manuals (The Camera, The Negative and The Print); co-founded Group f/64 along with other masters like Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, and Imogen Cunningham; and created, with Fred Archer the zone system. The zone system is a technique which allows photographers to translate the light they see into specific densities on negatives and paper, thus giving them better control over finished photographs. Adams also pioneered the idea of visualization (which he often called ‘previsualization’, though he later acknowledged that term to be a redundancy) of the finished print based upon the measured light values in the scene being photographed.
Leni Riefenstahl was a German film director and Photographer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. After her death, the Associated Press described Riefenstahl as an “acclaimed pioneer of film and photographic techniques”. Der Tagesspiegel newspaper in Berlin noted, “Leni Riefenstahl conquered new ground in the cinema”. The BBC said her documentaries “were hailed as groundbreaking film-making, pioneering techniques involving cranes, tracking rails, and many cameras working at the same time”. She made her career as not only an Actress, but also as a Film Maker, War Reporter and Photographer. Living in Germany at the time of the Third Reich her greatest success was made with the documentary film “Triumph of the Will” named after the Third Reich Party Congress Rally 1934 in Nuremberg which got the highest awards: The gold medal in Venice in 1935 and the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. However, at the end of the war this film destroyed Leni Riefenstahl’s career, for now it had no longer been recognized as a piece of art but been condemned as a National Socialist propaganda film. Her world-famous film about the 1936 Olympic games made the same experience. That film also did get the highest awards: the gold medal in Paris in 1937, the first price in Venice as the world’s best film in 1938, the Olympic Award by the IOC in 1939, and in 1956 it had been classified as one of the world’s best ten films. Most of the negatives for Riefenstahl’s finished films and other production materials relating to her unfinished projects were lost towards the end of the war. The French government confiscated all of her editing equipment. After years of legal wrangling these were returned to her, but the French government had reportedly damaged some of the film stock whilst trying to develop and edit it and a few key scenes were missing although Riefenstahl was surprised to find the original negatives for Olympia in the same shipment.
As a photographer, she soon gained the world’s elite after the war. Photo reportages about her stay with the Nuba were first published in the magazines Stern,The Sunday Times Magazine, Paris Match,L’Europeo, Newsweek and The Sun. Her illustrated books also earned her further honours and awards.At the age of 71, Leni Riefenstahl fulfilled a dream to herself, she had cherished for long: She attended a diving course to be able to also work as an underwater photographer in the future. Soon she became a master in this profession too. With her two illustrated books,”The coral gardens” and “The wonders under water” she had caused a worldwide sensation and got further honours and awards for them.In 1987, Leni Riefenstahl published her Memoirs which meanwhile have come out in 13 countries and reached a high circulation mainly in Japan and in the USA. In 1992, the documentary film Die Macht der Bilder was produced over several months at original scenes where she herself could express her opinion about her life and her artistic work. This film too got several international awards – among them an Emmy Award in the USA and in Japan the special prize of the film critics. In his book “The Story of Film” film scholar Mark Cousins claims, “Next to Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Leni Riefenstahl was the most technically talented Western film maker of her era.”
Irving Penn had his first photographic cover for Vogue magazine appeared in October 1943. Penn continued to work at the magazine throughout his career, photographing covers, portraits, still lifes, fashion, and photographic essays. In the 1950s, Penn founded his own studio in New York and began making advertising photographs. Over the years, Penn’s list of clients grew to include General Foods, De Beers, Issey Miyake, and Clinique.
Best known for his fashion photography,Penn’s repertoire also includes portraits of creative greats; ethnographic photographs from around the world; Modernist still lifes of food, bones, bottles, metal, and found objects; and photographic travel essays.
Penn was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop and he effectively used this simplicity. Expanding his austere studio surroundings, Penn constructed a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner. Subjects photographed with this technique included Martha Graham, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, W. H. Auden, and Igor Stravinsky.
Penn’s still life compositions are sparse and highly organized, assemblages of food or objects that articulate the abstract interplay of line and volume. Penn’s photographs are composed with a great attention to detail, which continues into his craft of developing and making prints of his photographs. Penn experimented with many printing techniques, including prints made on aluminum sheets coated with a platinum emulsion rendering the image with a warmth that untoned silver prints lacked. His black and white prints are notable for their deep contrast, giving them a clean, crisp look.
While steeped in the Modernist tradition, Penn also ventured beyond creative boundaries. The exhibition Earthly Bodies consisted of series of posed nudes whose physical shapes range from thin to plump; while the photographs were taken in 1949 and 1950, they were not exhibited until 1980. Penn met Swedish fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives at a photoshoot in 1947. In 1950, the two married at Chelsea Register Office, and two years later Lisa gave birth to their son, Tom Penn, who would go on to become a metal designer. Lisa Fonssagrives died in 1992. Penn died aged 92 on October 7, 2009 at his home in Manhattan.