Friday, 30 May 2014

Once more: The power of repetition

If you are a passionate photographer, you will sooner or later find that you start obsessively repeating some part of what you do, over, and over again. This is natural. It is part of the learning process, at least, it is when you try to really grok something.

At the moment, I have at least two obsessive-compulsive loops in my head. One is about understanding lines, and finding the essential elements that make an image interesting.

The result is my Whiteout series: I have taken to deliberately overexpose by about a single stop, then use an in camera grainy, high contrast B&W filter to create photos with harsh black and white, and most of the details washed away.

Repetition is the key to learning, and repeat I do. Time will tell what, and if, I learn.

When I started the Whiteout series, I was convinced nobody but me would be interested in it. As it turns out, that was wrong. The photos are much more popular than I thought they would be. Perhaps it is because of their simplicitly. They are restful, have clearly defined points-of-interest, and the drama is in the contrast, not the imagery.

The other loop that goes around in my head is different.

I am trying to build a Deep One, a monster from horror author H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The photos above are all training for Horror Noir a photo project I am working on with some friends.

With the Whiteout series I do not have to do much studying. It is mostly about practicing things I already know in theory.

In addition to that, I study:
  • Painting with Light, by John Alton: A classic book about Film Noir style lighting and filming.
  • Sketching Light, The Moment it Clicks, and The Hot Shoe Diaries, are all by Joe McNally
  • How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema, because, we are working on a photo comic, so the more I know...
  • The Insiders Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels, by Andy Schmidt, because, did I mention we are making a photo comic...
And that is just the beginning. I read, shoot, and practice with Pixelmator, because the better we do it, the more fun it will be.

You never really finish conceptual spirals like these. Instead, for every new loop, they mutate, split, or join with other spirals, becoming something new and fresh, and different, interesting, that must be explored...

Though I sometimes reach plateaus, or even regress, if I keep pushing, it'll be worth it, not for the goal, but for the journey itself.