Sunday, August 25, 2013

What’s in a Blur (In Search of Creativity)

Green violetear hummingbird (Colibri thalassinus) - Savegre, Costa Rica
Canon 5D mark iii + Canon 300mm f2.8IS L + Canon 2x mark iii

I recently took a look at my neighbor / wedding photographer’s website (see and thought to myself... “man that guy is so damn creative!” Being far removed from the portrait/wedding world, this type of photography seems as foreign to me as working with clay. 
Flying Monkey (Cebus capucinus) - Hacienda Baru, Costa Rica
Rather than art, I often describe my work as conservation photography or nature photojournalism. While I always strive to produce the best possible images, I know “creative” is not the first word that comes to mind. At times my work is technical, compelling or emotive, but the word creative is reserved for the artists of the world.
Lapa Lapa Lapa (Ara macao) - Rio Quatro, Costa Rica
To break my current photo-funk, I’ve been on the hunt for creative nature photographs. I know it when I see them, and sadly, this is not what I observe in most of my work. While searching for inspiring photographs of nature, I’ve found many self-described creatives and creativity in post-processing, but the real artists in my discipline seem far and few between. The well-known humanitarian and photo-educator David duChemin is at the precipice of creativity with his portraiture and recent works in nature, but the one I find most compelling is Nick Brandt. Call it retro, but Brandt continues to shoot large negative black & white film while the rest of us toil with our pixels and memory cards. The structure of his images are evocative and expressive in a way that few can extract from their nature and wildlife subjects. There is a depth and emptiness to his images, yet each is filled with the essence of its subject. I call this work creative because Brandt manages to combine the key moment with brilliant technical skills that makes for much more than a journalistic representation of time. I can stare at his pictures for hours.
Flying banana (Ramphastos swainsonii) - Hacienda Baru, Costa Rica
So, what’s with all the burry pics in the blog, you ask? 
During every prolonged shoot, I will break from my tendency towards technical perfection and try to escape from my self-imposed constraints. While I won’t be so bold to call any of these images creative, I might describe each as a purposeful attempt at making art from a bit of nature.

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