… I dream to be an artist. I pray that someday, if I work with enough care, if I am very very lucky, I will make … a work of art. Call me an artist then, and I will answer.
I consider myself a photographer…stop. Not a fine art photographer, nor a master, or a photographic genius. Not a savant or a guru. I guess if you pressed me I might label myself as a landscape photographer, but only hesitantly as I am reluctant to confine the definition of my photography so. Simply put, I take pictures, therefore I am a photographer.
The words art and artist are tricky titles to apply, there is a lot of gray area. I try not to think too long about what is art and what is not, it really is not usually that relevant to what I do. I shall say though that I believe art is not something one does haphazardly or on occasion. Just because you smear paint on a canvas, does not necessarily make you an artist, nor does one’s ability to press a shutter button.
The mild rant aside, recognition as an artist, is not what drives me. I do not actually dream of being an artist. What I do dream of is being a teacher, or at least someone who facilitates the spread of ideas and knowledge, specifically relating to photography. There is little that is more rewarding than sharing an image like this and seeing it excite (rather than impress) others. Knowing they will go out and incorporate those ideas into their own personal vision of the world, which will have just become that much wider because of the new inclusion of perspectives. Then knowing they in turn will share those visions and ideas back again with the rest of us. That to me is a much richer reward than any list of accolades.
To speak a bit of the technique used to create this image, I first saw this idea demonstrated by the photographer Ted Orland. I was visiting Yosemite and happened to stop in at the Ansel Adams Gallery where Ted had an amazing photo of Mono Lake done in this style. His photo was a lightning bolt to my imagination and not too long after seeing his image, I found myself standing along this stretch of the Oregon coast hoping for a nice sunset. It was an amazing afternoon, and I spent it up on the cliffs reading The Princess Bride and taking photos, but I was certain the sunset was going to fizzle because of the layers of clouds on the horizon. Sure enough the sun sank behind the thick band of clouds and the sky started to gray out so I hiked down off of the cliffs and figured I would linger on the beach…just in case. The sun reached the horizon and the burst through the thin layer of clouds there, lighting up everything for about 10 minutes. I double-timed it far enough down the beach so the sun was not behind the cliffs and close enough to Haystack Rock to photograph. Before I left I shot this panoramic with almost an entire roll of film through my Holga. The final photo ended up being the product of eleven separate shots scanned and layered together in Photoshop. It is an interesting technique, and an excellent way to burn film. But it is fun, and it has allowed me to find yet another way to see and capture some of the amazing things I see in life.