EARLY this week I was watching “Visual Acoustics.” It was a film about Julius Shulman, one of the most respected architectural photographers of all times. Most popular during the modernist times of architecture, he retired when post-modernism started to come in. He said he could not understand the designs anymore.
What caught my attention in the film was when he said the camera is the least important element in photography. He said that although the camera is important, there are more important parts of photography than the camera itself. How you see the light and finding the right perspective are just a few elements he considered far more important.
Fashion photographer Matthew Jordan Smith also described the camera as a tool, but your concept will always rise above the rest. He said that although he wants the best camera and equipment there is, many can always buy the same items. It is his eye for detail and his interpretation that distinguish him from the rest.
Another film I watched was Annie Leibovitz’s “Life through a Lens.” This is a must see movie if you love music, portrait and fashion photography. After watching the movie, I felt like an amateur, as though I still had so much to learn and experience before I can even call myself a professional photographer.
I am a fan of Richard Avedon but Annie definitely cleared my perspective and made me realize how colorful and wonderful it is to live the life of a photographer. Her name is synonymous with Rolling Stone magazine, where she made her career and captured the most popular photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono hours before John was shot to death.
Annie didn’t come into the industry oozing with talent. She started with a lot of mistakes and learned it the hard way. Although she made all the covers of Rolling Stone, she was struggling as a photographer and her mentors criticized her work, which urged her to do better. After all the success in a rock magazine, she succumbed to drugs, which was inevitable working with hippies at that time.
After rehabilitation, she joined Vanity Fair where she was exposed in the world of fashion photography. She is known to be an aggressive photographer that pushed everybody to the limits with production cost always exceeding the budget. One time, while shooting the Queen, Annie asked that the crown be removed. It was a daring act that rippled a lot of discussion.
I believe that to be a part of the future of photography, one must learn to be part of the past. I think the masters had broken all the rules and made new ones, which is important to our work.
Meanwhile, I recently met with an old colleague back during my graphic designer days. She’s now designing furniture but with her own artistic twist. She calls it “artNook”. The timing was perfect since I was looking for furniture for our next editorial assignment. You can check her work at facebook.com/artnookcebu.
Keep on shooting, everyone!