53mm f/16 1/60s ISO100
Artists are a different breed of people. They're prone to mood swings, erratic and often eccentric behavior. I'm not quite sure what it is that drives a person to create art, but I do know that it is a habit that borders on compulsion for many artists.
It's that compulsion that seperates the artist from the hobbyist and the entrepreneur. The hobbyist is fine creating a few things here and there while the entrepreneur is fine with only creating art when they are paid to do so, but the artist has a constant desire to create and is usually only happy while creating. The artist, unlike the hobbyist and entrepreneur, is never happy with their previous works, and is always trying to create better works. I would gamble that all of the past masters of history would agree.
Photography, when indulged in for the art, is one of the most difficult mediums to work with. The limitation of what is in front of the lens is sometimes maddening.
When I want to paint, I am limited only by my imagination and my level of skill. Skill can be improved and imagination is never lacking, but to take a photo I have to actually FIND the things I wish to photograph. This means physically searching for the right location, the right model, manufacturing the right lighting, the right props, etc. etc. ad infinitum, and nothing is more frustrating to an artist than limits.
While not every artist has an agenda like Banksy
, every artist has a vision of what they want to create, and the photographic artist suffers from lack of materials more than artists in other mediums these days, those materials being subjects to photograph.
I don't mean to suggest there is a lack of things to photograph, I'm saying that photography poses a unique obstacle to the artist. When I want to paint a rockabilly chick sitting on a car I simply walk into the studio and start painting. To accomplish the same goal photographically I have to find a woman that looks similar to the one I imaging, I have to find the car, I have to find clothing that mimics my vision, I have to apply the makeup to the woman, style her hair, set up lights, etc. Making photographic art utilizes many of the same resources used to make a film. Hair and makeup artists, prop coordinators, wardrobe managers, casting directors, lighting assistants and more. One photo in Vogue, or similar, magazine takes upwards of four people to accomplish. It only takes one to paint a landscape.
I don't care whether you're a hobbyist, an entrepreneur, or an artistic virgin, I implore you to go out and create SOMETHING, even if it's only fond memories...
The above image was created in an area of San Luis County, California called by the locals 'Pirate's Cove'. It's a rare clothing optional beach, although you can't see the beach part in the image, but that's the point. The habitable portion is hidden from casual onlookers, and who doesn't like a secluded beach?
28mm f/8.0 1/125s ISO125
I've had the pleasure of being 'family photographer' for a list of wonderful individuals, and that has allowed me to watch those individuals develop through the entirety of life's landmark events. Continually watching people live through similar situations forces one to notice how, although the situations are the same, the methods of getting through them are varied. Some of those methods amaze me, and I will never cease to be captivated by the strength inherent in the female of our species.
In 1996 the English rock group 'Space' released the single 'The Female of the Species', a song detailing why females are deadlier than males. The song is light-hearted and satirical, but it holds some truth. Women have an inherent strength, and those that choose to use it go very far in life. They say this is a 'Man's World' but a clever woman will always prevail if she is willing to take advantage of all her talents and force her way through the crowd.
As a photographer I often see people trying to show their strengths, it's one of the powers of the camera, whoever it is aimed at becomes a star. Maternity photos are a unique instance as it is very often indulged by those who would otherwise not enjoy having their picture taken. (Yes, some people loathe being photographed =)
Creating a portrait, to me, is more than just taking a picture, it's capturing an image of someone in the way that they would like to portray that moment to others. Photos are not for now, they are for the future, when we want to look back.
70mm f/4.0 1/125s ISO100
I have always loved, to borderline obsessiveness, art. Whether it's a Michelangelo sculpture or a spray-paint tag on a wall, it never ceases to amaze me what incredible things humans can create.
This image was, obviously, created in a cemetery. Cemeteries are often wrought with the most somber, thoughtful, and beautiful sculptures and carvings created, and it's not necessarily the piece itself as much as the place and time.
This statue isn't clean, polished marble like one would find in a museum, it's cracked, dirty, and covered with moss. This statue is a lonely monument, charged with watching over the memorial of a loved one for the rest of time.
Many of the oldest structures were monuments for the dead. The pyramids contained tombs, the largest for the kings of course. In modern times we continue the tradition, although on a much smaller scale.
Not only is the cemetery a trove of beautiful art, each piece having weathered the storm of time, but it is also a place of history containing the names, dates, and often a short note on the owners of those names.
Art is a part of our history, some study the art of the past to learn about those times. What will people speculate about us in the distant future?
70mm f/8.0 1/320s ISO100
It's Friday the 13th, the second one we've had in 2012. Believers in superstition feel this occurence to be an unlucky omen. Not only is 2012 the year the Mayan calendar ends, not only is 2012 a leap-year, but Friday the 13th is quite an unlucky number.
I am not superstitious, so I naturally don't place much stock in numbers. Any scholar of the history of man loses their belief in superstition after learning how different beliefs are the world over.
Why is the number 13 considered unlucky? It's not actually 13 that's unlucky, as numerology deals almost exclusively with single digit numbers, however the number 4 is believed to be a bad omen, and since 1+3=4 13 is unlucky. Any combination of numbers that adds to four is usually un-lucky. In America we avoid 13, we often skip the 13th floor in buildings going from 12 to 14. It seems that the 'evil' attracted to the 13th floor is negated simply by avoiding the label. In Japan all values of four are omitted, 4, 13, 22, 31 etc. They don't simply skip these floors, since their evil spirits can count, so they build their structures normally then wall off the floors associated with that number. If the Japanese are right, every 14th floor in America is haunted.
For the 9-5 workers of America Friday the 13th is still a good omen, promising two days of rest at its conclusion.
Sailors had a different view of bad luck, while the average believer in superstition would go to great lengths to avoid bad omens, sailors would keep the symbols of those omens close at hand. It was a common belief that having a tattoo of the number 13, or the grim reaper, would cause bad luck to pass by. Bad luck would believe the bearer of the tattoo to be kin, and thus not trouble his brother. Sailors have a very involved set of superstitions involving tattoos, one of the most common is based on the phrase 'pig below the knee, safety at sea' and is the cause of many pig tattoos on a sailors foot. Another common phrase resulting in a tattoo is 'Cock on the right, never lose a fight'. The pig is tattooed on the left foot, and the rooster on the right of a man who wishes to win fights and not drown.
Of course there are better ways to win fights and avoid drowning, but superstition and the belief in magic seems to be a part of human culture since the neolithic age, and possible even before that.
Modern psychologists have proven that bad luck is truth to the superstitious due to a concept called 'self-fulfilling prophesy'. When you believe something will happen, you act in such a way that causes it. This concept is nothing new, as far back as 1000 C.E. Kings have issued decrees against predicting anything negative against royalty, and many people have been jailed, hung, or burned for publishing negative predictions in their almanacs and horoscopes. Since the Royalty believed in the power of prediction, they naturally feared it.
In America the tradition of the carnival has given us much insight to the palm-readers and crystal-gazers, and with that knowledge we are free to indulge in such things for fun, enjoying the art and fantasy created by the great showmanship without the heavy-hearted belief in them.
Superstition is very real to the superstitious, and much money has been made selling amulets, charms, and spells to ward off bad luck. These trinkets work by the same psychological concept that causes the curses to work, self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe it will happen, it probably will.
Enjoy this Friday the 13th, and take a moment to remember our collective history filled with magic and fancy without the superstition.
300mm f/22 1/125s ISO100
I made this image in almost total darkness. I held a flashlight in my mouth to illuminate this happy fellow while I focused and composed. It's a miracle I didn't step on him in the first place. I'm glad I noticed this tiny frog, because this image has made it's way into a variety of galleries. Prints can be purchased at my online shop, just click the link at the top of the page.
Frogs and all of their relatives, the newt, salamander, and the toad, have always lived on the fringes of human acceptance. Often associated with witches, and erroneously said to cause warts, frogs are used in various potions and decoctions of practicioners of the black arts. Their croaks are said to herald the coming of death and they can sometimes be witches in disguise.
Truthfully, frogs are commonly used for scientific purposes, not the small tree-frogs like the one pictured, but their larger and greener cousins. Remember your high school science class? The day I dissected a frog for the first time is burned in my memory, not before nor since have I seen so many girls faint or vomit. The medical field, historically, owes much of it's knowledge to the frog. We have dissected them, poisoned them, given them disease and forced them to wear makeup. In the not-so-recent past the frog was the cheaper alternative to the mouse so widely used in laboratories today.
Frogs don't cause warts, warts are a viral infection. We know that now, but the superstition still lingers. The idea that frogs caused warts was a logical assumption, many young boys had warts, and many young boys played with frogs so, frogs must be causing all those warts right? Interestingly enough, frogs were thought to both cause and cure warts at different times. If you had warts you could rub a frog on the wart and then bury it at a crossroads under a full moon and in seven days your warts would be gone. You could also cure warts by tying knots in a string, one knot for every wart, and burying the string. The next person to pick up that string would get your warts and you would lose yours.
That's enough history for one night, I bet you expected something about Easter didn't you? Maybe next year.
Enjoy your weekend.
90mm f/16 1/1000s ISO200
I took this image outside of a city building in San Luis Obispo California. The writing on the clock face says "Spend time with those you love." I've photographed a number of city-built clocks and this one has the best slogan by far.
We humans tend to spend more time doing things we don't actually like than things we do. We usually spend at least one-third of our day working, one-third sleeping, and the remaining third is divided into getting ready for work, eating, and other mundane things that we do out of necessity rather than desire.
This clock doesn't instruct us to 'spend time doing what you enjoy' but specifically reminds us to spend time with people we care about, and I take that to heart. There are so many people in our lives that monopolize our time for one reason or another, and they're not necessarily the people we care about the most. Sometimes the people we spend the most time with are people we down-right despise.
The slogan purposefully doesn't advise 'spend less time with people you hate', it stays positive by focusing only on those 'you love', and I think that is an attitude we can all benefit from.
This week I've had the opportunity to travel to the Central Coast to photograph a newborn, which is always fun not only because I get to travel, but because I get to meet a new person and start to develop a relationship with them. Being a family photographer allows me to watch families grow, and it's a wonderful feeling to watch people blossom and grow.
I've also had the honor of being featured on the Wine Country Wedding website www.lakecountywedding.com . Wine Country Weddings is a website dedicated to providing information about the many great wedding destinations in Northern California.
You can see my featurette here: http://www.lakecountywedding.com/wine_country_wedding_pros/photography/royce-davis-imaging/
I will be updating it in the near future.
Until the next time, I encourage you to go out and 'Spend time with those you love.'