I have had an interesting career thus far – I did a lot of odd-jobs back in Green Bay Wisconsin, journalism, product photography and portraiture, and then later made a dent in the art scene there. I have shot many different subjects in a variety of styles.
What follows is a list of photographers who not only influenced my style, but my business practices and attitude as well.
Robert Stivers (www.robertstivers.com)
Seeing how my roots were sort of in Fine Art, when I found Robert Stivers’ “Photographs” at a used bookstore I was both enchanted and horrified at the same time. His use of normal subject matter on plain backgrounds was nothing new – it was his process’ results that made him stand out so much to me. He would Video-tape dancers with a super-8 camera and upon viewing the footage on a monitor, he would photograph them. What became of this process were these ghostly blurred images in which the subject matter would bleed together, in a sort of human symbiosis – and it was gorgeous.
His other book, “Listening to Cement” took his work out of the studio and to the streets where he did the same process with Architecture and street scenes.
His creative process and approach to such typical subject matter had a huge influence on me.
Lou Lesko (www.loulesko.com)
A photographer who has had much success in the world of fashion and advertising, he came to my school to speak on the business in my second semester at the Academy of art. Being the curious person I am, I asked a lot of questions and made a lot of comments throughout his talk, which apparently garnered some respect from him, as he gave me a copy of his book. I have read it 3 times since. More than anything what made an impact on me was his attitude. Here was a guy who had been very successful in his career, and with the continuing changes in the industry he not only rolled with the punches, but he evolved. He was at one time (and still occasionally is) a starving artist looking to make ends meet, and he is not afraid to admit it. He also writes a number of columns for photography magazines and he has developed the BlinkBid software. A few months after his talk, I contacted him to see what he thought of my work. I expected an e-mail that said “This is good, that sucks,” etc etc, but what I got was a call from his assistant who scheduled a phone appointment for the following day. Not only did we review my website for a good 20 minutes – he actually remembered who I was.
Diversity, a positive outlook, and the ability to evolve – No wonder he’s so successful.
Annie Leibovitz (Wikipedia Bio – It was all I could find)
Another diverse photographer, she may seem like a typical influence to have, there are a thousand photographers out there who are just as talented etc, but what I appreciate in her is her overall vision of things. It’s so strong and such a trademark, that you can tell at a glance that a photograph was done by Annie Leibovitz. That is some serious branding, right in her images.
I also rarely see a photographer with as much ambition as her – her work goes from very simplistic to outrageously stylish scenes such as her Alice in Wonderland work. If you pick up her book “At work” you can see the diversity of the work she has done, and how it has all seemingly climaxed at where she is today with her work in Vanity fair – It’s a perfect match for her style.
Autumn De Wilde (www.autumndewilde.com)
Nearly single-handedly got me interested in photographing people and environmental portraits. Her photos of people are so incredibly natural, she clearly takes time to get know her subjects before she even has the camera around. A relatively unknown photographer, she makes her living doing album artwork for indie bands. Of course, her making this list is helped by the fact that she photographed my favorite musician – Elliott Smith – in the later years of his life.
Even her other work, her work that doesn’t involve people at all has an amazing charm to it. She has an affinity for recognizing color and designs that are interesting to the human eye.
I know this doesn’t seem like a very long list, but each of the photographers that I mention I have delved deeply into their work. I can name most of the photos by Robert Stivers and which book they appeared in. I can recite all of the bands that Autumn De Wilde has done album artwork for. And I’m always looking for more, but in the last several years no other photographers have captivated me in quite the same way that these four did.
The photos in this post are property of their respective artists.