Inspiration & Influence

Who or what drives us to capture images with a camera?

In photography, like every art (because it is an art, whether some people like it or not), there is always a trigger that drives us to create; name it feelings, emotions, or simply the will to craft something that transcends our own existence. Personally, several times I wonder why have I chosen photography and I could never answer myself that question. Sometimes I think that capturing the magic of an instant that oblige us to slow down, think and appreciate the details that otherwise we would overlook, for being living in a world where everything is real time and we are constantly flooded with information that our brain can barely process.

Some of the aforementioned inspiration sources are other photographers; nowadays, internet allow us to have an unparalleled access to many different approaches to photography, different styles and therefore, influences. My father was the one who introduce me to this fabulous art: when I was a child, he used to deploy the slide screen in the living room and we used to look at his photographs taken in Europe  the 70s and 80s. For us (my brother, my mother and myself), it used to be a way to travel without moving, in an age where internet applied to every days life was no more than a science fiction idea, and air travel was prohibitively expensive (have in mind that I spent the first 26 years of my life in Argentina).

My dad in the works... I never had the chance to ask him why is he holding the camera like that; maybe trying to become a human tripod?

My dad in the works... I never had the chance to ask him why is he holding the camera like that; maybe trying to become a human tripod?


My passion for photography has been dormant for most of the last 20 or so years, having times where I use to enjoy taking pictures of my friends band's concerts with an old second generation digital Canon, until I had the economical meanings to buy my first DSLR. After that, photography became a way of life, something that every time I though I knew enough an invisible leg kicked me in my ass to realize that I knew absolutely nothing; that I would need many years if not decades to become a master.

My first glimpse of the photography community in Internet.

I wandered through several websites, initially driven by the need for information in the technical aspect of photography, the hardware available and camera specifications. Some sites proved valuable, others just a bunch of shiny lights with little or no content at all. My very first website was the one of the infamous? Ken Rockwell (www.kenrockwell.com) where I found an infinity of raw data about camera specs, and no more than that: I found reviews somewhat contradicting each other, as almost 25% of the cameras were the best ever made (!). Nevertheless, his website gave me a lot of information that it proved useful to make my camera knowledge richer. But it lacked inspiration, other photographers whose work really pushed me to go out and produce quality work. As a personal note, I may add that what is inspirational for me it might not be for you, as this is as subjective as art itself, so try to find something that adapts to your needs. I kept searching here and there, until I got to know about two very different photographers.

Enter Zack Arias and Ming Thein.

I really cannot remember how I ended up getting to know about Zack, but his editorial photography, the use of predominantly wide angle in portraits and his writing style really struck me hard: the guy had tried once with photography only to crash and burn and end up with debts and living in a cellar only to come back to business, and this time being successful. When everything felt lost, he ended up getting ONE camera and ONE lens and starting again from scratch, this time for good! He is as funny in his writing style as inspirational; blunt yet authentic. His signature regarding photography is the use of wider focal lengths than usual for portraits, and we could say that is the fan N.1 of the Fuji X100 out there.
I am going to attend to two of his workshops in Gulf Photo Plus (www.gulfphotoplus.com), Dubai, and I can't wait to meet the guy in person! His new blog/website, DEDPXL (www.dedpxl.com) is full of quality content.

Regarding MT (Ming Thein), I remember I ended up in his website while looking for reviews of the D800. His photography style is, if I may say, analytical, something that is not surprising from somebody that studied physics in Oxford. His images are clear, perfectly exposed and what drove me crazy the first time I surfed his flickr account is his effing ability to achieve a nearly perfect or flawless white balance in most of his pictures. It seems that he has an excellent photographic (sic) memory of how the light conditions where at that precise moment when the shutter was triggered when it comes to do a fine adjustment in post production.

 

Take that, Auto White Balance!

Take that, Auto White Balance!


Added to that, his blogging style is sometimes not only rich in the technical aspect but philosophical, and his articles are food for thought. Subjects ranging from what is art and photography to ethics of photography are covered in his blog, which is updated at least twice a week, and he actively interacts with his readers through the website comments.
I had the chance to meet MT once in Kuala Lumpur and is a guy who you can talk about not only photography but life in general for hours and hours and who is quite savvy for his young age (less than 30 years old at the time of this article being written).
 

That's what I call being at the right time, with the right light to create the right atmosphere. I would call this Cinematic Street Photography.

That's what I call being at the right time, with the right light to create the right atmosphere. I would call this Cinematic Street Photography.

 

Not only he excels in Street Photography, but also in Architecture. His good use of the 16:9 ratio and his ability to create what he named Cinematic look in photography. Basically is about transmitting that feeling that movies have to a single frame, by playing with light, aspect ratio and depth of field. You can read more about that in his blog.
 

Chigago by MT.

Chigago by MT.



As well, he developed a kind of high resolution called Ultraprint that I had the honor to see with my own eyes and is just unbelievable; it is endless detail all over around. I saw small prints with an improvised magnifying glass (actually a 50mm lens) and is just crazy; is the most effective use of a high megapixel camera that I had seen. You can check his website/blog (www.mingthein.com) and his Flickr (www.flickr.com/mingthein).

There are many more influences and sources of inspiration from other more widely known and classical photographers that I will cover in subsequent weeks. 

Enough about me for today, but for you guys, what is the source of your inspiration?