I often have people ask what type of a photographer are you? What camera equipment do you use? Another common question is what is your process? I think most photographers receive these types of questions quite frequently and have canned answers. These are always hard questions for me to provide meaningful answers to. Primarily because a simple answer to any of these questions would be limiting and incomplete. For instance I know of some photographers who consider themselves Black & White or Color Photographers. In my work I lean towards B&W or muted tones and colors because the work I create is often about lines, textures and flow, but… I have been known be drawn to color and would never want to be restricted in that way. The key concept is that I’ve always thought about photography as being about “seeing” more than anything else. To that end sometimes I see, texture, other times I see gesture or flow and yet on another day, the seeing is about color.
The concept of “seeing” also carries onto the selection of subject and tools. It is easy for me to say that I am a Nature and Landscape photographer who shoots digitally. That said, I love all the subjects available to me in the real world and depending on how I’m “seeing” that day, reserve the option to use any of the many subjects and tools available to bring a vision to life. While I love digital photography, I also thoroughly enjoy the traditional large and medium format camera approach to film, Polaroid, tintype, etc. When it comes to printing currently it’s hard to argue with the quality of a professional ink jet system, but I find the traditional darkroom process as well as gum, platinotype, etc. to be a perfect fit for certain ways of “seeing”. Mixing tools and process up can be very rewarding.
The selection of tools, process and medium for work is where a heavy investment in research and training is a must. I’ll often spend months researching, learning and perfecting a new technique or re-learning and re-perfecting an old technique only to find that it’s just not right for the project. While frustrating at the time, this is what builds experience and provides insight in the long run. I like to look at this as creative downtime. I’ve had quite a bit of creative downtime this year, but don’t regret any of it even thought I do complain from time to time.
In the end, I never want to limit myself to a single approach, category or set of tools to bring what I see to life. The underlying body of my work will ultimately in some way be a manifestation of what I was seeing and thus uniquely mine. Hopefully you will see this in the final work.