Thursday, December 27, 2012

In Transit Winners (pt. 2)

Juror’s Choice winner Edson Scudder finds that his best photographs come from unexpected moments. The son of an amateur photographer, his long-held interest in photography has begun to grow only in the past few years. To improve his work, he made a habit of taking the same two or three mile walk through his neighborhood with camera in hand. At first, the pictures Scudder took on these walks were almost random, but he recognized that this repetition was developing his eye as a photographer. This habit of regular shooting taught him “to see both the new and the same things in different ways; to look down as well as up and around, to be mindful of detail and light.”


Evolving from that early process, Scudder now utilizes a mixture of planning and spontaneity in his work. Although not discounting the importance of planning his shoots, he finds that his best photographs still come from unexpected moments. As he puts it, “often the best pictures come from simply always being ready – having my camera with me and staying alert to the moment.”


His winning image, Priscilla, was one of those perfectly spontaneous moments: Scudder was ready with his camera in the right place at the right time. He chose to snap the shutter at that moment because the expression of the subject – his mother - was a very intense yet natural pose. The events surrounding the image were somber and personal.

[W]e were driving home after meeting with her doctor, the day he confirmed that she was terminally ill and had only a few months to live. … With so many images rushing past, she is the still center of that moment, enigmatic, private.  She passed away less than 60 days after I took this picture.
Juror's Choice image, Priscilla
As an emerging photographer, Scudder’s definition of success is evolving along with his craft. He began with small steps, creating work he felt was worthy of a submission, receiving positive feedback, and slowly shifting his mentality from hobbyist to artist. “This is a new way of seeing myself and I am both encouraged and inspired by it.” As recipient of the Juror’s Choice award, he has taken another step towards artistic success.


Monday, December 24, 2012

In Transit Winners (pt. 1)

“I grew very fond of the film noir with all its feel of loneliness and low light” explains Dominik Dunsch when asked where he finds inspiration. As In Transit’s Director’s Choice winner, Dunsch draws not only from the emotion and style of the silver screen, but also to the work of great photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bruce Davidson. After branching out into color photography, Dunsch saw a whole new world opened up to him. “I just had to evolve, went to my first of two workshops with David Alan Harvey. David taught me a lot, especially about authorship. Also, my fellow students were a great inspiration and I have a deep respect for them and their work.”

Oh Lord

Much of Dunsch’s work is also informed by street photography, which is where he got his start.

Life on the streets, especially in big cities, tells you a lot about society. Well, it is society. You’re among people of almost all social and cultural backgrounds. It is pure life, filled with human emotion. Love, hate, laughter, stress, speed, aggression – but also silence, isolation, loneliness. That is something I’m really curious about: those silent moments within the big city noise.
His fascination with the nuances in daily life is clear in his winning image, R. Its focus divides between the countryside and a female passenger lost in her own thoughts. It embodies the routine of commuting on trains, separated from the land rushing by outside the window.

Director's Choice, R

While Dunsch always has an affinity for certain cities, such as New York, he loves to visit places he has never been. These new experiences set him out of his natural element, and allow for a new way of seeing.

I love diversification. It does not need to be a fancy city or a far away place - just something I have not seen before. It somehow reopens my eyes. On the other hand I keep on coming back to New York. Maybe because after so many times I do not feel the need to keep up with the speed. I can slow down while the life of the others passes by in a dizzying manner. While slowing down I perceive my surroundings in a different way. But most important of all inspiration there is: I love human emotion. And that's what strikes you most when you enter new environments I think.

At the Loft

This love of street photography and of different environments has served Dunsch well. But in the end, he feels that true success is achieved when his work speaks to others.

Well, success is a beautiful thing because it somehow shows you that you seem to be doing something quite right. But I think that there is an even more important question: what is success? To me, the respect of my collegues, fellow students, editors and critics is far more important than the financial success of my work. If someone can read my work it means that not only my creativity but also my emotions behind it are somehow understood. That's a very big deal for me, that's what I would call real success.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Never Know...(part 2)

A few months ago I wrote a post called “You Never Know... (part 1)” which discussed the value of getting your work out there regardless of how small or minor the exhibition/publication/review might be because, well, you never know who will see that work and what may come of it.  In this post I would like to take the “You Never Know” series in a different direction. While it is true that you cannot predict who will look at your work and what doors an exhibition might open, it is equally true that you never know what opportunities you might miss out on. The art world is a touchy place. There are a lot of egos, a lot of possibilities, and a lot varying opinions on both art and etiquette, and I would like to write a bit about being kind to our fellow artists, gallerists, and enthusiasts.

  1. Every great creative person had help getting to where they are now. No one was born great. The important thing to remember is that when they were inexperienced and unknown, they did not know where help might come from. Mentors, patrons, future clients, and bosses can come from the most unexpected corners of life. Because of this, do not dismiss anyone. Aspiring students, amateur retirees, professional photographers, and chatty enthusiasts are all worthy of our respect and attention. Not only is this good manners, but it is impossible to predict which one of these people could present you with your first big break, your next big paycheck, or valuable insight into life and art.

  1. There are no shortcuts. You will not get your solo exhibition in MoMA by mailing them a DVD of your work. Success comes from the strength of your work, to be sure, but it also comes from having the right people see it. Credibility as an artist, and as a good artist, comes from people seeing your name show up multiple times in the art world. There are people out there looking for the next big thing. If you are going to be that next big thing, having your name appear in multiple places will make you much easier to find.

  1. Galleries and clients value professionalism as much as talent. It is important to respect the time and other obligations of institutions or clients you are working with. This means being responsive. Whether you are shooting a fashion spread for Vogue or a family portrait, your client wants you to stick to your deadlines. It is important not to neglect projects that you may think are less important. Paying bills and responding to emails promptly shows others that you are a reliable partner. In an industry that relies heavily on word of mouth, your professionalism will go a long way in helping you reach your goals.

  1. Not everyone is going to like your work. Getting rejected sometimes is part of the game. This does not mean that your work is bad or that you are a poor photographer. It’s not personal. Everyone brings their own tastes to the viewing experience. If you don’t dust yourself off and try again, then you may be missing out on the next event where you will get selected. The process of getting rejected may also help you reflect on your work, making it stronger and more concise for when you enter the fray once more.