Tag Archives: abstract

Every Artist Needs An Audience

Triptych, Feathers No. 1

Triptych, Feathers No. 1

Every artist that you know or follow is looking for an audience for his or her work.  How do I know that?  Because if you’re aware of their work, it’s because they chose to make it public, and if they chose to make it public, it’s because they want people – an audience – to be able to see it.

Naturally, having a website and a blog, I include myself in the category of artists looking for an audience.  Looking for an audience is a funny thing, though.  If you look too hard for one, it can create problems for your work.  This can arise, for example, when you start making work based on what you think your audience wants too see.  Go down that road too far, and you run the risk of losing touch with why you started creating work in the first place.  Rather, the creation of work may become an exercise in repeating past successes to please your audience, or becoming preoccupied with trying to ascertain want your audience wants to see so that you can provide it to them.

On the other hand, in an ideal world, you would want to sustain the connections you’ve made with those who have taken an interest in your work.  Changes in your artistic vision or process may result in changes to the work you put out, which can run the risk of alienating those who have followed your work.  It’s not trivial to worry about if your audience will come along with you should your work branch off in a different or unexpected direction.

I suspect my thoughts have wandered off into this space as a direct result of the making of a number of abstract triptych photographs over the last week or so, including the image in this post, “Triptych, Feathers No. 1.”  Over the past year or two, I’ve devoted a lot of my photography time to making landscape photographs.  Probably most of my audience (small though it may be) (but again, thank you sincerely to everyone who’s taken an interest in my photography) has come to know me for this kind of work.

Perhaps oddly enough, I’ve never thought of myself as a landscape photographer.  Early on, I made a number of abstract diptychs, triptychs, and other kinds of subject matter.  While I love landscape photography and don’t anticipate stopping it by any means, I’m excited to have rediscovered a passion for these different kinds of photography, and I look forward to working them into my repertoire.  I’ll just be wondering a little bit if my audience will come along for the ride.

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Unexpected Opportunities

Matchstick Trees. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2014.

Matchstick Trees.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2014.

Last week, I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park (about an hour from my home in Northern Colorado) on a great weather day.  By great weather day, I mean stormy – rain, thunder, and lightening moving through the area in the late afternoon and early evening.  Stormy weather often creates great conditions for landscape photography, in the form of dramatic cloud formations, interesting plays of light, etc.  I envisioned these elements superimposed on the already stunning landscapes of the Trail Ridge Road area, and was really looking forward to seeing some expansive vistas and grand landscapes.

What I found when I arrived was – none of that.  The cloud deck had sunk down below the tops of the peaks, and the entire area was fogged in.  Thick, soupy fog of the kind where you can hardly see the taillights of the car on the road in front of you.  There was nothing to shoot, because there was nothing to see.  I figured the day was a bust and was about to turn around and go home.

But then I remembered a stretch of the road where there was a large grouping of tall, bare trees that, from a distance, look like a collection of matchsticks.  I had photographed these trees before, but was never pleased with the results.  The frames always looked cluttered (I never could seem to find a simple, clean composition), and the light on the trees always looked too harsh and with too much contrast to my eye.

How would these Matchstick Trees look in the fog, I wondered?  Quite nice, as it turned out.  The fog reduced the distracting clutter in the frame, enabling me to create more simplified compositions.  And, naturally, the fog diffused the light substantially, evening out the overall contrast in the scene.  My vision for the image was to create a high-key, almost abstract rendering of these trees, and the foggy conditions really played right into that.

When confronted with unexpected conditions, it can be difficult for me to let go of my expectations and adapt to what’s going on around me.  But, it’s my feeling that there almost always is something worthwhile to photograph, so I’ll have to remember to remind myself that it’s just a matter of being open to seeing it.

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