This week I thought I’d write a little about my photography. I don’t consider myself a photographer but an artist who works with photos. I like photography a lot but have never been interested in developing the type of skills I think I would need to call myself a photographer. I know my way around a camera but have always been satisfied working with what the camera will give me rather than enforcing my will on the camera as I think real photographers do. Of course real photographers also use the Law of Averages and so do I. Take a whole lot of photos and some of them are bound to be give you something you can work with. Being that I can draw and paint I can therefore make a picture out of nothing. Making some sort of art out of a photograph should be something I can do. That’s my general approach.

This photo is named “I Can’t Tell Time When It’s Midnight In My Mind”. It’s actually what I would consider a photography based print as opposed to the straight-up photos that I also make. I’ll have to write something about them another time. It’s a photo based print because there is no original (there is with my photos) and it’s been made entirely on the computer. It’s from 2005 and is one of a number of the photo-prints that I made at this time. It’s the square and the size of an old school record album. I think that’s right around twelve by twelve inches.

This photo-print starts with my street photography. At the time I made this I worked in Manhattan a few days a week and would walk around the streets in the morning and take street photos. I would also take photos in Bryant Park on summer Friday mornings when Good Morning America held its Summer Concert Series there. Some band or singer would perform a couple of songs on a big temporary stage set up in Bryant Park that would be broadcast live on GMA. A thousand or two people would show up to watch and I’d take pictures of the crowd. Sometimes the performers too but I was more interested in the regular people.

The largest image here, the women in the stripped dresses, were part of a scene I ran into one morning out in the middle of Times Square. I think they were appearing on the Today Show to promote their Broadway musical which had something to do with Elvis’s music. The stripped dresses were for “Jailhouse Rock”. They put on quite a show and I stood around and took some photos. Not only did I take photos of the performance but of the people standing around, walking by, or watching the performance. That’s what the three photos on the bottom are.

Almost all of my photos and photo-prints are multiple images like this one. I hesitate to call them collages (but I sometimes do because people know what collages are) because I don’t think that describes them well enough. Collages usually take a variety of images and make them into a single image. I’m not doing that. Though visually connected my images remain separate. Plus I take all my own photos. I’m not cutting someone else’s images out of a magazine or some such.

The top panel in this piece shows why I call this a photo-print. It is a digitally altered photo and has type on it. I use what a I call “Filter Recipes” to alter my photos. I apply a series of Photoshop filters to an image to make it into something I like. It’s not just a single filter as a lot of people might use but a process that has a lot of steps and filters. Luckily it can be automated and saved. I spent many hours working on those recipes until I got them how I like them. It’s not hard but takes a lot of trial and error.

Street photos leave me with a bit of a conundrum. I like taking them and capturing moments of real life out on the streets but don’t want to use photos of strangers without their permission. It bothers me a bit to do that. So I hide people’s identities a little with my filter recipes. They become every-men and every-women. They become hints of people. They become fleeting glimpses of strangers.

This one starts up top with a single face in the blue crowd. A woman looks off into the distance as the type crawls under her chin. A bit of blue’s complement, orange, stands up in the corners and pushes the blue back in space a little more. The cramped claustrophobia is relieved a bit as we enter the street but the deep space of the street is cut off by the four large figures and the crowd of people in front of them. Three columns of a street view open things up but not too much as they only occupy the space of the sidewalk. Lettering to balance the type on top appears in these three columns but the meaning of the words isn’t there. They look like the type on top but are different. A broken stripe of green texture nearly underlines the words.

Finally we get a glimpse of four women’s faces. We don’t get a look at the faces of the women performers but here are four passerby’s faces. They’re just as anonymous though. People passing through life and by chance passing in front of my camera. The whole piece is framed in blue and purple texture. It contains the picture. Every time my eye tries to leave the picture it bounces off this frame and bounces back inside.

It’s rare that I have a photo-print that’s this staged. I didn’t stage it myself but came across the scene. I think that makes this one interesting to me. You never know what you are going to come across and I got to tell a bit of its story. That’s what this and a lot of my photos are about. Telling a bit of the story. A lively Manhattan street, dancers, people running a TV show, spectators, passers by, and others with their own things going on. That’s the story.