Picasso said “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. The challenge is to let yourself be inspired by someone, rather than simply lifting their style. Attempt to distill the what or the why about their work that affects you and make it your own (there’s a great story about being inspired by the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet in our interview with Jaime Ibarra). If you ask most photographers, looking at the work of their peers is simply part of the creative process. That being said, just looking at someone’s work, without any context, often feels sort of empty. I mean, sure, I can appreciate the composition, the color, perhaps even the post-processing. But for me, that only goes so far. Just as hearing the story behind a photo can often change the impact it has on you, immersing yourself in the actual creative process of someone else can open up a new level of appreciation and inspiration that you simply can’t experience otherwise. For example, my background is in art, though I was never a fan of Jackson Pollock. We studied his work and discussed at length what an impact he had on the art world, but I just never connected with it. That is, until I saw the Ed Harris film Pollock. It was only after seeing Harris’ remarkable portrayal of the artist, and subsequently being moved to read about Pollock’s life, that I began to get a sense of what he was trying to say with his art. I was allowed to see the man behind the art and, in a way, became immersed in his struggle to find his voice and create something new. It was that immersion in the process behind the process, if you will, that made the difference.
Over this past weekend, a small group of photographer friends got the chance to do just that; to allow ourselves to experience each other “in process”, if only for an afternoon. Bill Wadman was in town from New York and he, along with Ibarionex Perello, Kevin Knight, Patrick Shipstad, Tammy Rapp (who is wishing she would have brought her camera), Nikki and myself spent the afternoon walking and shooting around downtown Los Angeles. It wasn’t really photo walk, but rather a four hour conversation, sharing stories, techniques and just observing one another both in front of and behind the camera. There was no real goal of taking photos. After lunch at Grand Central Market, we strolled, shot, talked, waited for each other to finish shooting, posed for each other, and listened. We allowed ourselves to become observers of each other. In talking about it afterwards, Nikki said “There was no competition. I could watch and learn from photographers that are so much better than I am and it wasn’t intimidating. I think it wasn’t intimidating because it was just a get together, nothing more.”
We can’t speak for everyone else, but the day made an enormous impact on Nikki and I. So much so, that we would really like to figure out a way to turn it into something we do as Faded & Blurred. Maybe we can make this a monthly or bi-monthly event. Maybe it could be something like John Favreau’s show Dinner for Five, but with photographers and cinematographers. Just a small group of creatives walking, shooting, talking, listening and observing. What do you think? Should we record any of them, either audio or video? Maybe just a portion of them? What would something like this look like to you? Sound off in the comments below.