Monday, June 22, 2009

The Photograph

(photo by my photorealist painter friend Tad Suzuki)

Despite the clear headed, objective nature of the photorealistic process there is an intuitive side to the work, namely the taking of the photograph.

I can be in an anxious state when I’m out in the world and this seems to heighten the subconscious attraction I have for a subject. Exhaustion will do this as well: many of my photos are taken on very long walks whose sole purpose is to find subjects for paintings.

I’ll find myself raising the camera to my eye without much thought. I don’t ponder or deliberate, don’t analyse the scene in any way. I just shoot and move on.

When the film is developed, I often find some key element in the image of which I had no conscious awareness when I took the photo.

I occasionally pass up a good photo in order not to stop in front of someone or otherwise draw attention to myself. I sometimes counteract this self sabotage by telling myself that taking photos is a necessary part of my job and when I have my camera, I’m working.

It always seems that the only truck on the street is blocking the one building I want to shoot or the guy on the cell phone won’t vacate the doorway in that perfect shot.

The inevitable passerby always seems perplexed that I would take a photo of some decrepit building. Little do they know I might also spend the next several months making a painting of it.

Point and shoot.

Like most of my process I’ve tried to keep this aspect of my practice simple.

I use a fifteen year old Minolta SLR 35 mm camera and shoot with Fujichrome Provia film. I haven’t spent a lot of time experimenting with film. The Fujichrome has a nice, even tone and is readily available to me.

I use the camera in full-auto mode with its standard 28-80 mm zoom lens. Simplicity relieves the awkwardness of busy city streets. I can frame with the zoom, press the shutter and be gone.

I take only two photos of most subjects, trying to ensure that I don’t crop the image too closely. I can alter the framing when I project the slide.

My tendency is to centre the subject in the viewfinder. There is something I find more objective in the symmetry of such an image. I’ve become suspicious of the apparent dynamism of diagonal lines!

It probably just appeals to my desire to seek order in my surroundings.