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Do Not Xerox

I push myself to make photographs of what I see in my mind; I often avoid the typical photo that other photographers have made. I refrain from the mundane or boring image that I have seen countless times before – the lonely rock, the winding brook, the tall mountain, the gnarly tree, and so on. Yes, I do make such photographs too, however, I get them out of my system and sincerely try to hide them from my audience; I do not want to bore you. Further disclosure: there was a time in my early career when that was all I did, I photographed everything that was in front of me. I would return from a photography trip with hundreds of rolls of film and look for that one special image. It was the machine gun approach: shoot as many frames as possible, I was bound to hit something.

Over time I began to realize that if I ever wanted to be more than a landscape Xerox machine, I had to bring my A-Game to creativity; I had to see and think differently. The simplest analogy: if I were a painter, was I painting houses or painting paintings? I wanted the latter for my photography.

Being creative is not easy; it takes serious effort and focus. Often, when I look at the landscape, I see images that have been done before (by me and others). I avoid those photographs because they detract from the time I have to create the wow image.

In the above image, I was captivated by the stark Canadian landscape. I drove along the road for countless miles without stopping; I knew that without a mental vision for an image I would merely photograph mundane elements and waste the time that could be used when I thought of an original idea. And then I found these animal tracks and made this photograph.

If I spend time making a photograph that began from a vision within me, the result will have a value that transcends the landscape that was physically in front of the camera because I will have added to it. My photographs should have at least these elements: the landscape and my contribution to it or my interpretation of it. If it lacks these elements I failed.

Before creating this photograph, I was faced with a brilliant sunlight filled landscape after a morning of rain. I could have easily included the Sun, the misty reeds in the water and the surrounding elements. Instead of doing what everyone else does, I isolated the reeds in the brightness and made a series of exposures. By doing so, I have contributed something new to our world; my art is not the 433,820,287th photograph of reeds after a rain.

Please note, I use the word Xerox here to represent my impression of the most popular or commonly used photocopier machine. When I write, "do not Xerox" I mean, don't be like a photocopier, hence, Xerox is positively used.


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