(View on flickr)
I find myself again citing Guy Bourdin as an inspiration for my recent work. It’s funny to recall how much of a longstanding inspiration his work has been for me, as I can recall referencing his work back in ‘06 for pics of mine such as The deaths. I feel that now I can comprehend his work better (even though he never intended his work to be ‘art’ beyond the perishable medium of a fashion magazine). I must have seen only a fraction of his lifetime of work, but what I have seen represents, for me, an intersection of different approaches – the surreal & composited (obviously manipulated) through to the more natural and effortless (not obviously manipulated) which have both equally inspired me.
Above: another image recently inspired by Bourdin, Corolla (view on flickr)
I had a bit of a revelation reading & looking at a Bourdin book the other night and thinking about my own direction. I feel like I know where I want to go with my own work, both inkeeping with whatever style I may have fashioned so far, and also how to take it further and diversify it (it’s liberating to feel that way, because it’s like being cosy at home and also opening one’s eyes to the world at the same time).
I feel braver that I do not want a ‘personal/commercial’ divide in my work, and I want to be bolder – be it with colour, subject, tone, or all of those. I want to approach commercial work with the same mindset as my personal work. It may only be a lucky few who make a living from doing that, but I’m happy to devote myself to reach for it.
I am also feeling confident about the way I work. Through the years I’ve wondered at my own methods and felt as if they maybe need correcting, regarding my spontaneity as probably just a necessary facet of self-portraiture (my book Self-Portrait Photography professes to the haphazard nature of the genre and how all its 8 contributors have embraced it as part of their methods). I’ve realised I don’t envision images exactly as they turn out – and that is fine. The place I’m shooting in, the props I use, the colours of outfits – I’ve become maybe more proficient at gathering specific ingredients but I watch them bake into an often surprising shape that somehow felt it was right all along. I find that the important thing is to do, using those props and things that throw you towards the concepts you want to express, to set oneself a somewhat loose brief.
I believe that artists work on more levels than the obvious consciousness. Our art can tell us more than our simple conscious mind comprehends at the outset.
With this picture, Retreaded above (continuing as part of my new work), I prepared the trip to the pile of tyres (by asking permission from the yard owners beforehand), and I also thought for hours overnight about what I would do in the shot and that I wanted to wear red. I still didn’t have a rigid plan though. On the day having forgotten my tripod mount, I had to have Matthew hold the camera where I wanted. Both shooting and processing developed organically, in a way I have always enjoyed.