A Fresh Perspective
Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment.
Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael.
My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals.
My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation.
This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections.
Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client.
And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!
During my (then) rather lengthy daily commute, I always opted for the scenic route, which, albeit 10-15 minutes longer, was much more relaxing than using the highways. And it had the added benefit of providing some interesting scenery to enjoy!
One of the points of interest is a set of farms near the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, one of which literally had a road right through the property of the farm. This did make for slower travel and the occasional scent of true farm life, such as organic fertilization; from time to time, I would stop here and capture something or other.
On this fine day in April, I wanted to get a bit of a wider image of the cows feeding in the very New England farmland (read: large rocks intersperse grass and mud). However, the cows had a completely different idea!
As soon as the cows saw that I had pulled over, they decided to come over and find out what I was up to…after all, there may have been food involved! So rather than getting the wide shot, I got this wonderful close-up of the cows vying for attention.
The interest to capture this image came to me, as I was looking to get some nice sunlight reflected in the pond that is right next to this little building. One of those nice, quiet October mornings when you feel like it might still be Summer.
I didn’t really like the reflection that I could get, given the (self-imposed) constraint of using my iPhone for every shot during the year, and I had already photographed the nicely restored mill building across the road (you can see part of it in the “Instant Grammar – page 3” post and another part later).
So I started looking for something different and my eye was caught by the splash of red from the somewhat dilapidated berries in front of the very dilapidated building. Putting the graffiti in the frame behind the berries allowed for a bit of juxtaposition of nature’s beauty against what can otherwise be created by humankind.
I’m sure that many of you suffer from the same photographers’ malady that I have: tons of images that you have forgotten about! Now, that is not all bad, because I have taken some bad photos in the past (and will take more in the future), which are best forgotten.
On the other hand, my photo editing/processing skills have expanded and improved over the years, so some of those not-so-great photos might benefit from a bit of this new skill level. As I went looking for the source file for a reasonably nice landscape of Peggy’s Cove that I took in 2007, I stumbled across an image at the Bay of Fundy that just never pleased me. If I would take it nowadays, it would be as an HDR sequence, so that I could really get everything I wanted in the image.
However, thanks to the wonderful folks at HDRsoft and the fact that I have played with Photomatix Pro for years, there was the possibility to come up with something new in this image. It is no longer a pure photo, as I went rather painterly on this image, but I really enjoy the mood that is captured here.
Let me know how you like it and about the photos you have resurrected from the past!
On August 13th, we had just finished a very nice dinner at one of our favorite Worcester, MA, restaurants: Bocado (highly recommended). As we were leaving, I had this gnawing thought that something was missing…
Of course! I hadn’t captured my image yet that day!! As we walked out the door at Bocado’s, I noticed that there was a small hole in the wooden fence between the two buildings and took a peek!
What I saw, intrigued me for the lines that were formed by the various surfaces, pipes, bricks, and the buildings, only to be broken by the pure organic texture of nature coming in to play. Luckily, a small hole is enough for an iPhone’s lens, so we get to see the result here.
I still enjoy looking into this image and wondering what lies beyond the fence and who will use the plywood, or what is in the blue container…
On page 4, we find ourselves in the cold of Winter with Thoughts of Spring.
Of course, one may think that those thoughts are a bit premature, given that the image was captured on January 7th and plenty of cold and snow could reasonably be expected… While that is certainly the case, seeing the farm tractor catching glorious sunlight got me thinking of Spring well before its arrival!
In an instant, I knew that the farmer was prepared for the next season to arrive and take on the tasks to get his fields ready for whatever their purpose was to be. It was almost as if Winter allowed me to peek into a diorama of things to come…
The image on page 6 was shot on September 5, while I was waiting for my car to be serviced. It had just rained and I sauntered over to the Panera close to the dealership to get a bit of breakfast.
After a (somewhat) healthy power breakfast with a cup of hot green tea, I was walking back and rather liked the sky that presented itself, so was looking for an opportunity to photograph it in some fashion.
As it happened, the dealership had planted a nice row of sunflowers along the edge of their lot to dress things up a bit. I liked the idea of juxtaposing the sunflower against the doughnut shop and the sky; a bit of a 3-way contrast between sun and rain, as well as healthy sunflower seeds vs killer doughnuts. A bit of finding the position to line up flower, shop and sky, and you see the result here.
September 12th was one of those mornings that promises a rather uneventful day: quiet, overcast and the promise of a bit more sunlight. During my commute, I was pondering what I might want to capture for the day’s edition of the project and nothing really caught my eye.
As I neared the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, I decided to stop and check out what a little pond looked like with the muted light. After parking the car and walking over to the pond, only to discover that the beaver dam had been destroyed to leave no water behind, it became time to look around.
As happens so often, turning around 180 degrees and looking in that direction indicated that there might be some opportunities. I crossed the road and found this wild apple hanging on for dear life with the morning dew heavy all over it.
Of course, there is much significance to the apple in many mythologies, so you can opt for the one that tickles your fancy. Personally, I found it interesting that this apple is still hanging on a meager branch that looks barely able to support it, much less nourish it to grow; it appears to me that the apple has outstayed its welcome and is on its way out to rot before it even hits the ground.
Clearly, there can be some very deep meaning to that statement, but then again, I’m just a simple photographer…