Spring Flowers © 2015 NATE METZ
Spring Flowers © 2015 NATE METZ
For Mother’s Day, my mum and I took a road trip to visit some family. I did bring my dSLR along, but snapping these images with my smart phone captured the pace of the trip much better. It was a quick trip, but still enough time for this photo journal:
There is nothing very overt about the provocative nature of my photographs. Often, they are beautiful moments of color, line, form, and texture. I do find, though, as I continue to submit work and meet other artists and converse with gallery folk that my work isn’t Photography with a capital P. It’s unexpected in some ways because it’s not how most people would use a camera. For example, these tidal lines are rather unassuming perhaps, but I see a delicacy worthy of framing. But, no, you say, it’s pedestrian at best– lacks varying qualities of color, depth of field, and these five other technical aspects of a Photograph.
This is my brand, my photography. I’m not overly intricate or technical in my approach, although my perfectionism may ask me to lean that way at times. I challenge your classic and traditional view of photography, and that’s my style of provocation. I do not accept any established definition of what art should be. I own my expression fully. These prints are for sale because they are worth money and would look great hanging on your wall or even a 4×6 on your desk. If you already know me, then this diatribe is not news. If you’re new to Nate World, now you know!
Needless to say, I do already embrace this Damn Good Advice and follow it unconsciously. Being a cultural provocateur is an archetype repeated throughout many areas of my life. It isn’t easy and I don’t know that I would pick it out for myself if I had a deck to choose from because it is an ongoing challenge. It requires great strength and courage to think freely and remain centered so that I can continue to honor the pure place of my creativity. I’m glad seasoned creators like Lois can ask younger generations to continue to push boundaries and reinvent the art world.
A nice hike led me along these frames this late spring:
I put off editing these photographs for several months because I wasn’t sure what direction to go in the post processing. I prefer to do very minimal cropping and lighting adjustments with some sharpening in the export. But, these flowers just didn’t have the right impact following my usual PP flow. I like the gloomy lighting of such a vibrant white flower, but out of the camera it lacked some shine. In Photoshop I was able to rescue these images with a black and white conversion. Instead of forcing a color image, I decided to follow the image and go monochromatic and BLOOM!
I can say that I am guilty of it: google. I’ll be in the midst of a brainstorming session and I start to google my ideas. Sometimes I’m checking to see if it’s been done before and take a litmus on my originality. Sometimes I’m having trouble connecting some ideas and look to see what other people think on the subject. And, other times, I cannot articulate my thoughts so I mind map on google images and help myself see. Lastly, I google myself (name, art, business) to check on my SEO and visibility.
So if you’re not tinkering on a computer, as George Lois so vaguely puts it, where do you find the big idea? He doesn’t offer up any suggestions. Rereading his tagline, I see he is merely pointing out that one should not expect a computer to do the work. One must still put forth the effort to procure the big idea. As the illustration on the page says: “DUH!” I’m not sure that this is really great advice though for any creative individual. We already know this fact: ideas come from within ourselves.
When I meditate, dream, or set forth the intention to solve a creative problem, develop a big idea, or embark on a new creative project, it always comes from within my being. It is spiritual. Sometimes I feel it in my heart. Sometimes I think in new ways that challenges my beliefs. And, other times, the big idea explodes with such a tremendous force that the fountainhead remains shadowed by the idea itself. I do not question my intuition when it leads me to a great idea. Because I trust the process of my artwork and photography, the big idea blooms like a flower. It just happens. And then with a series of computer tricks, contents, and forms my computer delivers it to the world to share all of it’s glory.
Bored one afternoon this spring, I pulled out my 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR that I haven’t used since I first bought it 5+ (?!) years ago to test it out. I thought, erroneously, that it would only be good when out scouting birds or taking tourist type shots that I could zoom up onto monuments and so forth. And that is precisely why I hadn’t been using it, focusing instead on my prime lens to capture a nice bokeh and shallow DOF for my translucent light studies. I have had a lot of micromovements in some of my throwaways, so I decided to play with the VR by standing 7-10 feet away. These are the shots I came up with:
A month ago I toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I brought my full kit (4 lenses, camera, and external flash) so that I could get some pictures, but was surprised upon walking in the front door that all photography was prohibited inside the main house, including cell phone cameras! I claim no expertise on historical preservation, but I’m pretty sure flash-less photography does not harm the subject in any way. My guess is that the Estate wants the tourists to purchase the official and professional photographs from the gift shops. While I may have taken a few of those style to document the trip, I’m more interested in colors, shapes, and textures and other more abstract pictures. I clearly disagree with the ban because I feel as though they misunderstood the type of photography that I wanted to do! So, I had to rebel just a little bit. I took this photograph in the basement with my cell phone:
By the time the house tour was over, I caught a break in the rain and decided to check out the conservatory. I have been to Longwood Gardens several times and really enjoy taking pictures of the flora because of the soft lighting and near-perfect subjects. The conservatory at Biltmore is much smaller and had much less variety, I was able to take several interesting photographs. These all remain untitled for now. As I select a few favorites for prints, frames, entries, and so forth cleaner edits and titles will emerge! For now, enjoy an early look of spring:
This fall I have been exploring the idea of translucency. I am interested in the BIG IDEA of a subject allowing partial light to shine through it. A translucent subject has two levels of meaning for me. The first is the artistic quality of allowing light to pass through a subject with an illuminating effect, somewhere between opaque and transparent. The second is more esoteric and spiritually natured. We often speak of the soul as light, letting our light shine, beaming with joy, and so forth. A translucent being, then, is spiritually evolved, allowing the “insides” to show through to the surface. The en-light-ened spirit permeates its entire being.
I’ve been study translucent light for the past month now, and want to share some of my progress. I knew that I needed to find subjects in nature that were translucent to capture both levels of meaning for me, so I chose to focus on leaves and petals first. I believe that nature is naturally radiant and through awareness we can see the light inside any part of nature.
Here is my first set:
It is time for some honest reflection on the ideas behind my digital photography. My captures do not always go for the Big Idea. While it’s true, I have been able to get some amazing work together, the bulk of it is safe and “pretty.” I can say all of this because I have not pursued my craft with much seriousness, about all that was required of a good hobby. My more recent work is finding it’s voice and making a statement, for which I am very grateful! And, more importantly, my book AWAKE is a Big Idea. That is one project that really penetrates the mind, touches the heart, and elicits a reaction.
In deeper reflection, art should have purpose. My acrylics and collage work is some of my most pointed work. My spirituality and philosophical musings are much more apparent here, for example:
A Tree of Life © 2010 NATE METZ
The connection between body, mind, and spirit / heart, brain, and aura is apparent within the context of a tree. The image easily pulls the viewer around the canvas exploring our personal connectivity.
I can look at my photography and see the deeper themes, but it certainly takes more work on the viewer’s part to explore them. In working with a critique of AWAKE, I can see how some pictures lack intention and purpose. The book works, though, because of the accompanying text. This image is a great example:
From Prince Charming for Snow White © 2007 NATE METZ
This peony if framed on a wall would like some context. The title is ambiguous, although the story is just a personal memory: in a school play, I was Prince Charming and on opening night, I picked a bouquet of white peonies from the garden and gave them to the girl playing Snow White. Isn’t that sweet? I took a different approach though when I published this image. In AWAKE, this is frame 49, stating
We have the power and responsibility to transcend anything in our lives that keeps us from accessing the magnificence of our being.
The soft fullness of the petals create a mystical atmosphere where contemplating transcendence works. Personal power is a Big Idea.
My goals now are to transition from exploring the subjects themselves to exploring artistic concepts. I will not rely any longer on clever titles, backstories, or spiritual text to provide the necessary working context of my photography. I am in the pursuit of higher work: inspiring images without limitation and truly Big Ideas! This is what I’m referencing:
I Prefer the Unfurling of a Rose © 2012 NATE METZ
Here the translucency is unexpected, and one of the next concepts I am exploring. I purchased a high-intensity flashlight to help me capture this magical lighting when not naturally available. I will surely share my progress here, so be sure to bookmark my blog!