One of the things I love to do is to figure out how some photograph was done. I know that even just the breaking down of a simple, well done image and why it worked is often more instructive than spending hours in the field shooting. I found this activity so beneficial when I was just starting out as it was a way for me to practice my photography in the evenings after work or anytime I couldn’t be out shooting or working in my darkroom. I still do this, but the things I look to break down are a bit broader these days.
It isn’t uncommon for me to see some technique, lighting or approach in a photograph that interests me and then spend whatever time is necessary to figure out how it was done. When I had my studio that might mean spending a day or two reconstructing how I thought something was done until I could replicate the effect. I don’t ever remember having a desire to actually adopt what I was trying to recreate, just that I wanted to understand how it was created. The importance was that I was doing something different, taking a new path that I may have never traveled without that stimulus. I would often learn quite a bit along the way—new and unexpected things, not just what I was trying to recreate. And often it was just the planting of an idea or way of doing something that could be drawn on in the future.
About a year and a half ago, I saw the finished music video I posted below and was just blown away by what they had done—and I really liked the music as well. Sure, it was not a single still photo but it was wonderful and started my mind racing in all sorts of directions. Even before I saw the video, above, that breaks down the process, I could understand the feat that had been accomplished and the creative effort and thought this would take. Nothing was simple here and it was obvious it was done “organically” not with massive electronics and computers like I have seen during broadcasts of major sporting events.
Even though the individual photographs made by the process look somewhat primitive, which I think is part of the magic of the overall effect of the video, this idea just set off a process within me that I only realized while I was writing this post. That this video was the genesis of a project I have been exploring recently. We just don’t know where our inspiration will come from but unless we are open to looking beyond what we are doing, and primarily interested in, we will limit our potential.
The idea that struck me was how photography often just looks at a single moment from one perspective. We don’t naturally look at any single moment or event from more than one perspective. Here, they presented us with that ability.
My own project, which I started about a year ago, is addressing the issue of perspective. I don’t like posting images from things I am still working on resolving, but it might be instructive and relevant to how ideas can come from unexpected and maybe seemingly unrelated sources. Of course, I then realized how this was also the concern of Cubism as well.
Where my process will go, I don’t know. It might just lead to something I have never thought of before or it might become something in and of itself. In fact, this post totally changed into something different from what I intended.
I hope you enjoy these videos–and the music–and that they might start some inspiration for you as well.