Inspiration: Photographers who have inspired me…part 1

When I started this I thought I would do a quick post about photographers who have inspired my photography.  It became like the Everready bunny, it kept going and going.  I realized most of you would soon get fed up and not want to read it all.  So, one post became 2.  Tune in later for part 2.

Inspire.  When I become inspired I become motivated and encouraged to do something myself.   I learn by being motivated.   It is not copying what someone else has done.  I may copy a style or technique, but in the end how I look at a scene will totally be me.  I may even try to stand in a spot to try to get the same image someone else did, but even then I will still see something a little different.  I remember years ago standing in front of a totem pole in Bella Coola trying to figure out how a recent magazine had shown the same pole without distractions in the background.  After a time of bending down and moving around I finally found that “sweet spot”.  I did copy that scene, but I also learned from it.  Move around and look for different angles.   I recall what Beatle, George Harrison said in his defense when he was being sued for using someone else’s guitar lick in “My Sweet Lord”.  He said he may very well have copied that lick, but he did not do it on purpose.  He just had so much music in his head he would never really know where something would come from.  That is the way I see inspiration, filling my creativity with so very much.

So here is the first half of my inspirational photographers.

Ansel Adams:  I don’t think any outdoor landscape photographer can say he has not looked at something that Adams did and not be inspired.  He is number one and will always be to me.

Pat Morrow: Pat is a true outdoor photographer.  He skied, hiked and climbed and in turn created some spectacular images.  He was the official photographer of the 1982 Canadian Everest climb.  I was fortunate to take a weekend course with him while I was in university.  A group of us spent a weekend photographing and skiing in Banff with Pat as our guide.  Some images I use in my photography classes are ones I took that weekend 30+ years ago.  Several years ago I took in an exhibition at the Whyte Museum in Banff commemorating the 82 Everest climb.  I stood in awe again looking at the images Pat had taken while standing 5 miles high on top of Everest.  While writing this I realized I had never searched for Pat on the internet.  To my joy I found his website,  (Can someone tell me how to make links into hotlinks that will take you to the site?)

Dr. Wayne Lynch:

Dr. Lynch has  locked his photos so I cannot show you examples.  You have seen his work though!  Dr. Lynch has been Canada’s premier wildlife photographer for decades.  I know you have seen his work on calendars and magazines.  I first became aware of Dr. Lynch 25 years ago when I took a weekend workshop at the U of C, back in the good old film days.  I recently have had the pleasure to take  a class from him on using photoshop and was entertained by him when he was the guest speaker at a conference I attended in Banff.  Check out his site for awesome images.

Darwin Wiggett:

Darwin Wiggett

Darwin Wiggett

Darwin Wiggett

Darwin Wiggett

Darwin Wiggett has been one of the most influential photographers that I have followed.  Both his blog and website not only offer up great images to study but are full of free tutorials and helpful information.  Darwin lives in Cochrane and shoots a lot of the area west of Nordeg along Abraham Lake.  Until I started looking at his work I never really considered that area as a photo destination.  My sites were always on the more famous destinations, Banff and Jasper.  Darwin published a wonderful little book years back, How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies.  What he did in the book was to offer advice on the best places to photograph in the parks.   It is no longer in print, try Amazon.  I have used the book a lot traveling through Jasper.  It was in his book that I first read about Horse Shoe Lake, Jasper.  I have encouraged you to visit there in an earlier blog post.  He has created a website though that offers the book updated in e-book format.  The link to that site you will find on his blog.  Last year he used to offer a photo a day with details of how it was shot.  This year he has stopped that and does one a week.  I can imagine what a job that was to keep up everyday.  If you search back through his blog you can still find some of those daily posts.

John Marriott:

John Marriott

John Marriott

I first became aware of John Marriott’s work when I was browsing through shops in Jasper.  A couple of his coffee table books caught my eye, especially a small one.  Reading the liner notes and then checking his website I discovered that John self publishes his own books.  The idea appealed to me and his small coffee table book became the inspiration for my own small book of favorite photos.  I have attended several of John’s workshops in which he has talked about how to become a pro and actually make a living.  If you follow magazines such as Canadian Geographic you have seen John’s work.  In fact I think the above image of the black wolf was a cover photo recently.  John also publishes his own line of greeting cards that you will find in shops from Canmore to Jasper.  While John does not keep up with his blog like Darwin he has offered a lot great information on it.  More than photo tips though John offers wonderful stories about his encounters with the wild subjects of his images.  He is on a “first name” basis with most of the wolves in Jasper and Banff.  While his stories are often inspiring John often reports on the grim side of life for the creatures of the park.  This summer he offered readers a very emotional post about the death of several grizzlies in Banff.

Scott Hargis:

Scott Hargis

Scott Hargis

Scott Hargis is a realestate, interior photographer based out of San Francisco.  His images have been in many leading interior decorating/home magazines.   Now you are probably saying what is Mike doing with interior design photos.  My wife this spring suggested I should become her official realestate photographer.  I discovered the Camera Shop in Calgary was offering an evening workshop about interior/realestate photography with Scott.   We attended the workshop and picked up some little tricks to help my shots, such as how to straighten those wide angle walls that lean.  Since then I have followed Scott’s website as he also provides a lot of tips and hints.  He will be back in Calgary in Nov. to run a 3 day course, however it is a little step for me, $349 for one day.

Dr. Robert Berdan:

Dr. Berdan has locked his photos so I cannot download any for you to see.  I encourage you to visit his site though.  Not only are his images great but it is the ultimate teaching site.  Every month Dr. Berdan offers you at least 4 articles on various outdoor photography topics.  Some are written by him, some by guest authors.  He also has a huge list of free tutorials you can download.  I have found his tutorial on flower photography very helpful.  Dr. Berdan is based in Calgary and often offers classes and workshops in central Alberta.

Norman Rich:

Norman Rich

Norman Rich

Norman Rich, (my wife's favorite)

Norman Rich

We were lucky enough this weekend to wander into the Art in the Park in Canmore  and be greeted with Norman’s breathtaking images.  We spent half an hour viewing his work and talking to Norman about his work and how he does his own canvas printing.  His work on canvas is incredible.   I think I am going to regret not buying one of his images.  He does not sell his work himself, except in the summers at the Art in the Park, the rest of the year his work is sold through galleries.  What first caught my attention as I walked into the park was his image of Horse Shoe Lake, Jasper.  I had almost the same shot as he did, but his was breathtaking done on canvas.

Peter Detling:

After visiting Norman Rich’s booth in the park in Canmore we wandered down main street.  I was excited to visit Peter Dettling’s new gallery.  I had read a lot about Peter’s work and his new book.  When we walked into the gallery we all stood there silent for several minutes in awe of the images we were seeing.  The first image I saw was a huge print of the Rundle Mountain reflected in Vermillion Lk.   It was incredible.  You will have to visit Peter’s site to view his images as I cannot download any.  However, as capable as Peter is at capturing the beauty of the mountains he does not shy away from showing some of the harsher sides of life for the park inhabitants.  In his book Peter shows the grim images of wolves that have been killed on the park highways.  Peter uses his gift as a great photographer to make us question what we are doing to the wild creatures in our “protected” parks.  Peter came from Switzerland were he witnessed the loss of habitat and the extinction of many species.  I admire Peter’s work.  I think with the work he is doing and that of others like John Marriott we may be seeing a new age for the coffee table books.  Ones that are not just about pretty photos but are deeper and will make us think about an issue.  This used to be the area of photojournalists covering wars and famines and not nature photographers.  I am excited by this -nature photos can become powerful educating forces not just pretty images.


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