influences
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photographic influences
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Photographic influences . . . I have many, life itself being the most important, but there are a few photographers as well (in order of relevance)...
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Tom Wood
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Liverpool based photographer Tom Wood has been my biggest influence for the last five years. Although he has only published a handful of books, I immediately associate with his style and photographic approach. Initially All Zones Off Peak and Bus Oddesey provided me with great inspiration for my own street photography work. I was immediately attracted to the use of duality and manipulation of factors such as blur, reflection, natural framing etc that Tom Wood used to give his images deeper conceptual connotations. Also, his book Looking for Love has shown me how this kind of style can be taken out of the street and used in a social documentary based project approach. Looking for Love makes a social commentary on the human condition using ironic and aesthetic techniques and provided the basis for my own project, entitled Still Looking.
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If you like my style, then I thoroughly recommend getting your hands on one of Tom Wood's books. Especially the recently published Photie Man.
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Diane Arbus
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On the face of it the work of Diane Arbus is cold and unnerving. One quote that always sticks in my mind is "you see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw". Diane Arbus' images seem confrontational because she always entered into a dialogue with her subjects before taking their picture. This combined with a wideangle lens created surreal images that have not been replicated to the same degree since her suicide. She allowed the camera to be a facilitator to communication rather than a hindrance and this allowed her to create groundbreaking photographs. I have felt this approach has always lacked in my own street photography which is why I am in such awe of her work.
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An important consideration that Diane Arbus has introduced into my own practice is the question of exploitation vs representation. Initially her images seem to be exploitative of her subjects, until we realise that they are in fact very sympathetic. This has had resonance for the social documentary based projects i have undertaken to take me out of the street environment in order to produce works that are more representative of the human condition. Namely, Still Looking and Jane & Debbie.
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Garry Winogrand
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I have only recently become aware of the work of Garry Winogrand but this man was undoubtedly a true street photographer. In his lifetime he shot obsessively and amassed a personal collection of over one million images. Many have found it difficult to penetrate his work, but I immediately associated with his style and use of a wideangle lens, which is not common in street photography but has become a feature of my own practice. Winogrand more or less invented the genre we know as 'street photography'. His approach was more environmental than that of other photographers; he photographed people, but his focus was on the street and the person (or people) in it rather than simply on the person. This combined with his unorthodox approach to framing and other technicalities has ensured he will remain in photographic history and influence photographers for years to come.
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Robert Frank
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Although I have researched Robert Frank for a number of years, I still don't know in my own mind whether I actually like his work. One thing that is undeniable is that The Americans was probably the most important photographic work of the twentieth century and continues to influence most social documentary photographers today. Although I can readily associate with his style and the importance of his images, I have great difficulty penetrating his work beyond this. The success of The Americans may well have something to do with the fact that one's reading of it is a personal experience. The irresolvable ambiguity in its meaning make it's interpretation different for everyone. It is this ambiguity that has led me to become increasingly frustrated with the work recently. The mastery of its sequencing has introduced an aspect of photography that i feel is almost beyond me, and this is something i may have to resolve as i approach the level of a professional.
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If my style of photography interests you then it is also worth looking at these practitioners...
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Paul Graham
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Andreas Gursky
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Lee Friedlander
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Wim Wenders
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Tony Ray Jones
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Paul Reas
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Nan Goldin
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Bill Brandt
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Robert Polidori
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Chris Killip
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I generally do not look at other types of artist for inspiration, but there are several magazines and books that have helped shape my political views and photographic attitudes...
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Adbusters magazine
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Private Eye magazine
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Amateur Photographer magazine
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On Photography
by Susan Sontag
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Ways of Seeing by John Berger
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The Burden of Representation by John Tagg

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