Introduction by Skip Cohen
Over the many years I've been in this industry I've attended hundreds of workshops and presentations by some of the finest and most creative artists in our industry.
Years ago I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Arthur Rainville while I was in Boston. To this day it remains one of the finest presentations on the quest for creativity I've ever heard. And again, over the years, Arthur has grown to be an incredible friend and throughout the industry there's grown a deep respect for his outlook on the craft, his ability as an educator and his creativity as an artist.
This post is part of an SCU "trifecta" with a podcast and a video all thanks to Tamron USA. What I've enjoyed about Tamron over the years is their position on education and support for the photographic community...it's non-stop. So, kick back for a few minutes and enjoy the world according to Rainville!
The late, great astronomer, Carl Sagan, once said; “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent a universe.”
All too many times these days we like to hope we can create Art-on-Demand… a little Photoshop here, a little NIK filter there, maybe even a dash of Painter…. that ought to do it! And while all of these new fangled tricks-of-the-trade certainly can aid in our quest for the magical, nothing will ever replace making a good and honorable picture to start.
Camera and computer skills aside, the aesthetics of art – composition, design, balance; color harmony will set a grand stage for the magic to come.
The old adage of what goes in is what comes out could never be more accurate here. The more you look at successful photographs, great paintings, any worthy art, the more it will manifest itself when the time is right. And then…. the two P’s – Play and Practice.
You can’t make yourself be creative, you can only let yourself. You’ve probably already experienced having some of your best images come from simply joyful times, not particularly ‘have to’ moments.
Picking an idea or a theme to focus-explore will also yield heightened results. A good example might be: studying the work of the legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. His sense of timing, of waiting for the exact “Decisive Moment” when every element in the composition ‘sang’ separated his imagery from the masses.
Finally – get in the Zone. You can visually influence your efforts by emotionally being ‘ready.’ Using Wordsmithery – the suggestive art of telling yourself what you want to see, feel, capture, and will help you focus. Let’s look at an example.
Consider the focus word – Solitude.
What does the word imply? aloneness, quite, private space….
Now how could you visually speak of those words?
For one thing…space. Leaving lots of negative space in the image around your subject suggest oneself in a great big world.
Consider the quality of light. Should it be dark and separately foreboding or perhaps soft and quiet like an overcast day?
Obviously when you start to put Wordsmithery into your gear bag you will have added a significant tool to your visual imaging.
A great example was the discovery by artist James McNeil Whistler (ya, he got famous with a simple portrait of his mom) once said: “Art Happens.”
Seems Whistler was standing in front of a window and noticed the foggy view– “Art should be like breath on a pane of glass” and he instantly knew how he would create his atmospheric looking paintings from that day on.
Being a ‘Whistler Lover’ I set out to recreate his special look and initially achieve it in ‘real time.’ Obviously a soft quality of light is called for, no harsh glaring light or shadow for Mr. Whistler. And a muted color palette was with out question – no bold elements need apply. The negative space compositional elements of a small subject in a great big world concept heightened the feeling.
In the end, it’s you, your private way of seeing, that will tell a unique story. You will bring all the ‘magic’ that has accumulated in your memory banks into play at the moment you push the shutter button. See – think – feel – and….. make your magic.
ARTHUR LEVI RAINVILLE, M.Photog., Cr. CPP, API
Visit Arthur's new website for more images and information.
All images copyright Arthur L. Rainville, All rights reserved.