Blog #83 What you can learn from other photographers
W. H. Davenport was credited for the phrase,
Good artists copy; great artists steal.
While I think that there is certainly a lot that we can learn from our peers in terms of working technique, shooting style, artistic presentation, and more, stealing, according to this phrase was never intended to be taken literally.
The Blue Lotus Gallery in Hong Kong is the leading photography art gallery in Hong Kong and represents Fan Ho and other local talented artist photographers. The gallery also hosts a series of sessions where a photographer will talk about their work and latest book publication. I attended two talks recently, one from Nick Poon and one from KC Kwan.
Both presented terrific work and to hear them discuss their vision and working style was truly inspiring and a real treat. Nick Poon documented small shop owners in their tiny cramped spaces using an iPhone 4s in a powerful collection titled Confined [受] while KC Kwan showed the dark, gritty underbelly of Hong Kong through sex workers, and junkies using his ultra wide lens in his piece titled Homebound. Kwan’s style is reminiscent of the Are-Bure-Boke style of the late 1960s early 1970s Provoke group from Japan. I was excited to purchase a signed copy of Homebound since I’m a huge fan of the Japanese Provoke style of images. The work was dark, and reflected the artist's tough upbringing as an orphan in inner city Hong Kong. He identified this connection between his style and the way in which he grew up and viewed life. He shared something amazingly insightful that really struck a nerve with me.
I was also struck by the fact that Nick’s included an entire series of images that resulted in a significant volume of work and book publication was shot on an iPhone 4S. This was clearly not apparent when looking through the book itself or when he shared images on his giant iPad, pinching in to zoom and show detail in the images. We guessed that he had used a 35mm lens of some sort. I was thinking he was using a Sony full frame sensor camera since the lighting in these stalls was all over the place. Boy, was I wrong! I know iPhones and other smartphones can take some decent quality images but I was genuinely surprised that this work was done a phone. This was proof positive that cameras and gear don’t mean shit.
In summary, I learned that:
Great stuff! Peers can be amazing teachers for sure!
The light is always right.
*Images herein were made on a Nikon F100, 35mm lens, and shot on Kodak Ektar 100 and Kodak Portra 400 35mm Color Film and developed at home, using DigiBase C-41 Kit from CameraFilmPhoto.com then scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner at 2400dpi.