Fred Holland Day, who was probably one of my greatest influences. He was a photographer and philanthropist reaching the peak of his career at the end of 1800’s. He seemed to dabble in a lot of different interests, history, nature, and art. He was greatly inspired to create extraordinary images of the male nudes. He never married but it was never confirmed if he was a homosexual because his life was kept private. He was a contemporary of Alfred Stieglitz and a part of the Photo-Secessionist movement. He is rarely known and many of his images were quite controversial at the time and not always socially acceptable and so were less popular. His images are filled with beauty and a wondrous grace. His attention to light was extraordinary. His influence felt by other photographers since. He was a visionary who could see beyond himself and approached each image with such artistic integrity that their brilliance still radiates though them to even a modern viewer. Unfortunately there was fire in his studio that destroyed most of his work. Mostly what survives was out on loan or in private collections. After the fire, he gave up photography and moved on to another venture. Of course the process of creating images was completely different during his day and gave his images their unique impression. And his images were more about the expressionism of his subject’s subconscious mind. The light, softness of focus, and texture of grain was always remarkable. I become obsessed with the quality of his images and spent many years doing portraits in this style, trying to get to the very core of his mood and tone. Of course, with the modern processes that quality is just not quite obtainable, not even digitally, but the presence of his format lingers in my imagination.
For me it took years for my own unique style to emerge, the taking of lots of bad photos, of experimentation and exploration…”to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune” so to speak. But if you keep at it and search for the truth in yourself that uniqueness of style will become apparent. I see so many people become defeated too early thinking they are not good enough and give up. I think the real courage to create comes from giving yourself the latitude to fail and recognize sometimes we create very bad images.
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