(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.

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Posted in Essays, musings, Inspirations - References to other artists, My images - versions & outtakes on February 22nd, 2011 | 4 Comments |

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Comments for “Retreaded”

    1. Nicola
      11:55 am on February 22nd, 2011

      Bravo for deciding to reach for a unified style across your personal and commercial work. I believe strongly that those who succeed in making their living in that way make an explicit decision not to compromise. And they succeed precisely because of their bravery. I’m still studying photography but I’m struggling with the same issue myself and I can’t help but feel that being true to the work one wants to make is the only real path to fulfillment.

    2. Orangefilter
      9:01 pm on February 22nd, 2011

      This is not a comment on photography,…its a comment on your writing skills…over the last couple of years I have had the pleasure to read several things you have written.You have a great “written voice”…I get the feeling you could write about almost anything and it would seem intelligent and thought out. Congrats on the success of the book…Keep writing,……Its as great to read your work as it is to view your photos…

    3. christian petersen
      3:06 am on February 23rd, 2011

      Guy Bourdin is the Master. He is the reason i started taking pictures (after seeing his amazing show at the V&A). he also made incredible films which if you haven’t seen them already…………they’re gonna blow your mind.

      If you like Bourdin i must also recommend the films of Dario Argento especially suspiria, tenebrae, inferno, proffondo rosso, phenomena….infact all his films up until the late 80’s are great. Stylistically he is the closest director to Bourdins aesthetic…..He is also a huge influence on me……and if you can take the scary nature of his films,,,,,i’m sure you’d find them equally inspiring.

      looking forward to seeing more Boudin inspired pieces!

      love from chris

    4. stacymarie
      1:06 am on May 6th, 2011

      In one of my classes this week we had a mini-lecture on your photography and so I’ve been doing a little reading about, and flickr viewing, your work. A main topic of discussion was the flack you’ve gotten for being so successful at such a young age. It’s a silly thing to have to debate, but it’s unfortunately a part of this business.

      I’m glad to see you write something like this. You’re doing something that millions of people all over the world wish they could be doing. You travel, you write, you shoot…and it’s your style of photography and editing that has allowed you to do that.

      So go get ‘em girl :) and I’m so glad to have been introduced to your work.

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