A photographer’s inspiration

A photographer’s inspiration Making Pictures with John Enman

A short time ago I read a Facebook entry addressed to photographers that posed the question, “What inspires you?”  This was posted on the Kamloops photographer’s page. I anticipated I would see replies mentioning photographers who had inspired them to get into photography, or to practice photography. However, I was surprised and disappointed with how few took the time to respond, and those that did indicated Rembrandt, or other long gone painters, but not one person mentioned photographers. I wrote the following response.

“Unlike previous posters that seem to prefer painters to photographers as those they look to for inspiration, here are some famous photographers who excelled in photographing people. Those without a background in photography probably have never heard of them.”

“Those I admire include: Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Arnold Neuman, Gregory Heisler, Sarah Moon, Sheila Metzner and Annie Leibovitz.  I suppose I could mention scenic photographers like Elliott Porter, Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen and Edward Weston. There are so many photographers that I look to for inspiration; some aren’t well known, but I like their photography all the same. I suppose there are painters and sculptors I like, but do they inspire my photography? No not really – I look to photographers for that.”

I expected to see a storm of replies from those that might have felt insulted, but the thread went dead.

I am inspired by other photographers, many are well known and some not at all, both by their photography and what they say about photography. I decided to search for a quote by Man Ray, the photographer and artist that inspired me years ago to get a camera and use it for more than a snapshot device to document friends and things around me. On inspiration he once wrote, “Of course there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how”, while others of a more curious nature ask “why”. Personally, I have preferred inspiration to information”.

I’ll continue that thought with a quote by another of those I included first on my list; Richard Avedon, “I think many photographers create in order to survive, both emotionally as well as financially. For a photographer, taking a photo is just as important as breathing”. His words are inspirational in my opinion.

Sometimes when I see a photograph that I like I get excited. I might not be able to go to the location or find the subject of that picture, but it still makes me want to grab my camera and begin searching for something. I could say that photograph inspired me to create one of my own in my own way.

For those that like scenics and close-up photography I must include the famous Canadian nature photographer and author, Freeman Patterson www.freemanpatterson.com.  Patterson has authored several books on photography and technique and his photographs appear in other’s books.  I think any photographer interested in photographing gardens or landscapes will find inspiration in his photographs and writing. Patterson wrote,  “Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.”  I think that might have been from one of his most famous books published in 1979 ‘Photography and The Art of Seeing’.

There are many things and people that inspire me, too many to write down here, but the original Facebook post was on a photographers page, so it’s photographers that I thought about, and that is all I can remark to those content to only look at painters from the past for inspiration.  There are many photographers past and present whose images are worth looking at, learning from, and of course, gaining inspiration from that will surely affect one’s own photography.

These are my thoughts this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.