I’ve always wanted to be one. Since I was Kindergarten drawing Rescue Rangers when I was supposed to be practicing my letters to elementary school when I drew, in my own opinion, the best poster sized Ninja Turtle print I’d ever seen, all the way to my college years when I bought a ton of stuff to attend my first art class. What did all of that get me? Questions.
Honestly, the biggest bruise to my ego was that first art class when I walked in thinking that my shit didn’t stink and that I would easily be the best in the class. Literally the lady next to me, who’d been doing original artwork on her own as far back as I had been drawing existing cartoon characters was LIGHT YEARS ahead of me in pure talent. It deflated me, and it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me as an artist. I wound up asking myself “Am I really an artist of a pretender?”
Some of you know that I started taking pictures because of this class. I needed a way to keep up with the life drawing and so I’d take a picture of someone and draw that. Not exactly “life” drawing I know but it opened me up to a whole new avenue of art that I’d eventually adopt as the way I wanted to be an artist.
Fast forward a whole bunch of years and I find myself back at the question that I had the first day of that class. “Am I really an artist or a pretender?”
I love being a Photographer and I mean LOVE. It’s one of the biggest accomplishments of my young life. To find something that draws infinite happiness without reservation. However, I still want to be an Artist. I don’t mean a pencil and paper “Traditional” Artist, that particular dream has long passed. I’m talking about using what I love to produce art that I can be proud of.
I very recently had a talk with another artist who’s followed my work for some time. He mentioned to me that my work years ago was more artistic than what I do today and I found myself apologizing. It actually shook me a bit. I’ve felt the same way for a long time but hearing it from someone else really took me aback. I spent a few days thinking about it, I even went back into my archive and looked at my old work. Then I started to think, what I did yesterday is what I did yesterday. I’m still capable of that work, more so now that I’ve learned new things but what I do today isn’t any less art. I still pour everything that I love into it, every shred of knowledge and experience, every bit of my attention and creativity. Isn’t that what an Artist is by definition?
I’ll say this before I start ranting. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I never should have apologized for the course that my art has taken. Art appeals to everyone differently and I really lost sight of that for a moment. I do consider myself an Artist. I do appreciate that people who work with me may want one style of art over another. It’s just the nature of people. Tomorrow is another day, and with that brings another client with another vision and imagination. Art is subjective. But…if you’re paying. I’ll be whatever Artist you want me to be :p
If you're reading this then welcome to the new ESnellDesign.com!
If you've been following my work for awhile then you'll notice that the site is completely different than what it use to be. I have to admit it's a bit of a breath of fresh air to finally have it done.
A number of people liked the old site and I appreciate that wholeheartedly. Thanks so much to everyone who's checked out the site before. I hope that you'll like the changes and continue to support E. Snell Design!
I also plan to be more vigilant with these blog updates.
Ok so, I’m not the best in social situations. I know how to be personable and I can talk my ass off but as a general flaw in my personality I am a nervous person… I can’t help it that’s just who I am. I ramble and, more so now than in my high school days, I stumble over my words. I’m working on this. Photography is a very social business but as I get better and my network expands I have to work closely with more and more people who I don’t really know. So far I’ve had good reviews from my clients, which has led to repeat business. However, I’m always fearful of that first time a client won’t like what I’ve done or completely shoots down my work in general.
This brings me to my next point…
Stepping beyond myself… As now I’m working for other people instead of strictly with other people I’ve reached the point where my ideas may not be what my client wants in general. My wife’s opinion on this is “If they picked you to take their pictures then they want your style. Don’t give up too much to your clients or they’ll get something that doesn’t look like your work.” I love my wife. She gives the best advice. I’ve been trying my hardest to keep to it as well. Here’s the thing, if I’m learning new techniques, equipment, and approaches to portrait work what happens when my style changes? I haven’t stopped evolving my style yet. What I shoot today may not compare to what I shoot two months from now.
All I have to say on this is that there are constants to my work and style that I probably won’t change for a long time. Anyone who’s seen my work or followed it from the beginning knows these things. I love to disconnect my models from the camera (having the model look away from the lens) as I feel like it makes my viewers ask themselves “what is he/she looking at or thinking about”. I LOVE working the contrasts of strong shadows and strong overblown soft lighting (both things I do almost every shoot) and I have a real affection for lens flare when shooting outdoors. Anything else is always up for change or evolution.
If I ever feel like I’m doing more for others than for my own vision then I’ll have a model come in to shoot something that I and nobody else wants to capture. That’s what I call a photographic vacation!
Now for the lesson learning part…
I’m still shooting by trial and error. This winter I learned a small lesson that may seem obvious to most of you. Shooting without the right attire can affect my shoot almost as much as not having my model show up at all. I got a point during a winter shoot where I was frozen to the core and my fingers could barely grip my camera let alone snap the shutter. I had to end my session early due to freezing my hands off. The lesson learned from that was buy some freakin’ gloves, but then I couldn’t feel the camera so I changed that to fingerless gloves. See? I learned something there that is small but no less essential moving forward. Yesterday’s lesson was similar. I sweat in the summer, can’t help it. At several points during my shoot on Memorial Day I had to pause and wipe sweat from my burning eyes! Just imagine if I had overly sensitive eyes? Next time I know to bring a sweatband J.
Seriously though. What I really learned and am still learning is that sometimes it’s not what super expensive equipment you have or what the next technological advance is. Sometimes it’s small things like gloves or big things as maintaining my creative integrity while learning to make changes that I’m comfortable with. Those are lessons I learn and keep in my mind and heart everyday.
P.S. Sometimes I need to step back and let others take the reigns for me. I learned that lesson Memorial Day too. Thanks Toya and Kimber for helping me realize that.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned…
Ok so I was asked recently what my inspiration was or more specifically "How do you get ideas of what to shoot?".
Now me being the person I am, and of course knowing full well the answer, evaluated the question a bit. I had one of those "What does she think i'm going to say" moments. So my first reaction was to answer with a question. "How do you think I come up with my ideas?" To which she answered "Your family."
Not to say that i'm not inspired by my family. On the contrary they inspire me to do a great many things, including pursuing photography as an artistic outlet and/or vocation but they aren't the force behind my creativity. The real answer, which my wife got right away (go wife), is music.
Here's a bit of insight into my home life. If I used my wife as a source for my ideas my work would be a compilation of "lovey-dovey" and "angry/frustrated chaos" (no offense babe). If I used my son it would be a mixture of, well, lets just say i'd be taking pictures of toys a lot. Now, I have shown my view of my wife via photography already mind you. Both the soft beauty and the hard bitch that I know her to be: http://www.esnelldesign.com/latoya-s-shoot.html shots inspired by my idea of the woman I love. I've done my son as well.
Now the person who brought up the question was actually a little upset I didn't say my family but I try to be honest and it took me a minute to remember that she doesn't know me to understand me. Music is a force that completely drives ME even though i'm not a musician. My personality type is INTP (look it up if you want) but basically what that boils down to is that I live in my head and analyze everything. I also listen to my Ipod ALL DAY EVERYDAY! It's attached to me surgically and never leaves my side... So what happens when someone who thinks every second of every day listens to a song that completely drowns out his ambient surroundings? He thinks about the song!
The inspiration for the wedding shots with Jo ~ Thank Heaven for You by Esthero
The inspiration for the Kimber Warren window shots (and I was a bit depressed around this time) ~ Three Libras by A Perfect Circle
Those are just some examples of what I mean. You may know those songs and get completely different interpretations from them but as I listened to them whole scenarios played out in my head like a movie. I would have loved to have danced to Thank Heaven for You at my wedding, Three Libras is a bit depressing and makes me feel a little lost at times.
I have much more to shoot and plenty of ideas to get on camera especially this killer one involving Kunoichi and Swords inspired by the song Passive by A Perfect Circle (haven't figured out how to shoot it yet but i'm working on it)!
Well it's a new decade.
Two full years have passed since I took up photography as a hobby. One full year since it became so much more. Now a new challenge lays ahead of me for 2011. Turning this vocation into a successful business.
I admit that I have a soft skin when it comes to business. I'm not the best businessman. I always viewed businessmen/women as a bit cold hearted, ruthless and inflexible in their pursuit of success. However, I am coming to understand it.
I live with a woman who I have watched turn a personal hobby into a fairly lucrative business in its own right. I noticed in watching her that a business person doesn't have to be any of those things to be successful. One simply has to have to courage to follow through with their ambition, be stern and maintain their professionalism. I've watched as people have come to her with ridiculous requests for discounts and other stuff you wouldn't believe and paid attention as she handled it all with professionalism and courtesy. I am adopting these things for myself.
I've been told that a successful artistic career usually takes 5 years to get off the ground. I'm all for this. I am not in a rush to be the next photographic phenom. There will always be new things to learn and experiences to be had. I just believe now I have to guidelines to be successful for myself and for my family. Hopefully next year I can look back on this blog and say that I have made significant progress.
I have to admit that i've never categorized my work as anything other than art...
I never want my work to look like it came out of a mens magazine. Even as a man I'm uncomfortable with the idea of my work only being considered "sexy". It doesn't sit well with me to the point of being outside my comfort zone.
My favorite critic describes my work as:
"Obviously glamour for the most part but there's definitely a wonderful fine art aspect".
I have been uncomfortable with this assessment and it was on my mind so much that I eventually Wikipedia'd the definition of Glamour Photography. Wikipedia defines Glamour in this way:
"Glamour photography is a genre of photography whereby the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in a romantic or sexually alluring way. The subjects may be fully clothed or semi-nude, but glamour photography stops short of deliberately arousing the viewer and being hardcore pornography".
One of several definitions of artistic photography provided by Wikipedia says this:
"A frequently used but somewhat vague term. The idea underlying it is that the producer of a given picture has aimed at something more than a merely realistic rendering of the subject, and has attempted to convey a personal impression".
I can't argue with the assessment of my work. I can admit, however, that my idea of glamour was way too dependent on the zillions of mens magazines I see on my way to pick up my morning breakfast everyday.
After finding more definitive descriptions of both aspects of my own work I feel a lot better about it. I will continue to see myself as an artist because in my heart it is what I am and no longer will I worry that I am straying to far from my original intent. My pictures convey my "personal impression" of my world as well as my view on the subjects that step in front of my lens. I believe I have a firm grasp on my idea of artistic and i'll damn well stick to it...
I sometimes expect people to know what i'm thinking. In this i'm a bit naive.
Two shoots this weekend. Both my wife and a good friend of mine stepped in front of my camera and before my eyes transformed into woman i'd never seen before! Needless to say the experience was a beautiful one. A lot of time, patience and a bit of experimentation produced some of the best shots IMO of my portfolio.
Now the disheartening part...
We know I use Facebook as a medium to interact with both potential models and family/friends. I like to let them know what their love and support investments are producing. What's disheartening is the fact that it takes NUDITY or the idea of nudity spark peoples interest.
I am not a "Nude Photographer". I have interest in Figure Nude Photography and some examples of it in my portfolio but it's not my first choice for artistic expression. The female form, while a wonderfully divine creation, can be appreciated just as well with clothing.
There are plenty of mens magazines out there to oogle pretty girls from. I couldn't help but be discouraged as consistently the shots that get the most comments, oohhs and aahhs are always the ones where there is missing clothing. Seriously, some of the most well executed, dynamic, dramatic photographs i've even seen, both including and not including my own work, are always overshadowed by that "Hot Mama" in the shot next to them.
I'm ranting and obviously don't expect everyone to feel the same way I do. It just makes me sad personally that some of my best work (IMO) doesn't get the same attention that a simple "sexy" shot does.
Took the family out to the Sakura Matsuri festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
It was beautiful. My son had a ball. Got to see the Taiko Drummers...albeit from the sidelines. My little man ran around and must have said hi to every person in the park before he finally passed out.
The cosplayers were everywhere! I saw more Ichigos and Narutos than I can count on two hands. Everyone was cool though and very mostly willing to put up with us photographer types and our oversized cameras.
Only regret is having missed the actual blooming of the Cherry Blossoms...
Had the wonderful opportunity over the last three days to work with a new face. Ms. JoAnne C. came to my studio Thursday night with a suitcase full of clothes, shoes and jewelry.
I had met Ms. C in February over coffee to talk about her shoot. She was so open that it was really easy to talk with her and I think if i'd have sat with her any longer than I did she'd have had my whole life story. When she came for her shoot I was proud that she was so comfortable that everything just seemed to flow from shot to shot. It was like a breath of fresh air to work with someone so free.
For the Satuday shoot we hopped on the train with her little purple suitcase and headed to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). There is a lighting factory there with a breathtaking mural that I had been eyeing for a good month now. Needless to say it provided a grand backdrop to compliment Jo's dress.
Thanks to Jo I even got to experience Highline Park! I hadn't even known it existed. Definitely gotta go back there though. Our time there was way too short.
That's it for now though. TY for reading and supporting.