Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inspirations #3 - Cars, real and faux

In addition to Edward Weston, another of my early influences in photography was Walker Evans. His straightforward photographs of everyday life during the Great Depression deeply impacted my "style". Recently I have been thinking a lot about my style... Where did it come from? Who is responsible for it (besides me)? Most importantly, where is it going? These are all difficult questions and the answers can be quite complex.

Where did it come from? Probably from a mix of the places I have lived. England (although I have no conscious memory of it), Orange, NJ (in the 1960s), Pompton Lakes, NJ (in the 1970s), New Brunswick, NJ (college years), Fair Lawn, NJ (post-college), Lyndhurst, NJ (beginning married life). I would say these places all influenced how I saw my surroundings. These are all old places, and I seem to be drawn to old subjects.

Who is responsible? I think I have narrowed it down to a combination of Edward/Brett Weston, Walker Evans, and George Tice. Of all of these I have to lean towards Tice. He is also a New Jersey photographer, and indeed we have seen the same things albeit at different times and in different eras. In fact, I entered a national contest once by the Photo Review. Mr. Tice was the juror. I submitted a photo from Paterson, NJ (one of Mr. Tice's stomping grounds) and was honored with second place and $200. More on George Tice in subsequent Inspirations posts.

Now the tough one... where is it going? I don't know. I continue to seek out things that have been forgotten, overlooked or never looked at, period. But I have also recently embraced color. Will that change the way I see things? My love for line, form, tone and abstraction are still strong. It will get interesting I can assure you. I'll just have to wait and see.

Garage, Atlanta, GA, 1936, Walker Evans

Tony's Friendly Auto Service, Salinas, CA, 1989, Richard M. Coda

Above is another inspiration. One a trip to Carmel in 1989 I passed this Trompe-l'œil painted structure in Salinas, CA, on Rt. 68 on the approach to the Monterey Peninsula. The brilliant whites originally caught my eye and then the beautiful paint work. I made a point of noting the time and returning the next day with my 4x5" camera. Setting up on the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway I had to wait 45 minutes for a break with no cars passing into view. It was well worth the wait and I thank Mr. Evans for his inspiration.

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