Whether it’s the eloquence of a past master sourced from a monograph or memoir or a pithy insight
conveyed by an admired mentor during a lecture, workshop or internship, these encounters can have
a profound influence on determining future direction and building the motivation to forge ahead. For
a head start in drawing up your own list of heroes to emulate, we asked seven photographers from
diverse backgrounds to describe the one role model who has influenced them the most.
; Compiled by Jill Waterman ;
currently in Beijing, China
John Clang. In my opinion, he is one of the most balanced
photographers in the industry, as he has married personal
work with his commercial assignments on a very successful
and tremendously high level. His works speak on many different levels, something I have always aspired to do. He has also
been a wonderful mentor for me over the years, asking difficult questions, which I would constantly ponder over the time
that followed. He has kept true to himself and has taught me
not to allow others to define you, a trait I find to be rare in this
present and challenging period.
Don McCullin’s body of work changed my life. His photographs made such a strong impact on me that from the day
I saw his book Hearts of Darkness at age 16, I never wanted
to be anything else but a photojournalist. His work made me
believe that we must never turn away from tragedy, violence
or the less fortunate in our world. His raw, unflinching images
cut to the core of the issue and offer the viewer no quarter.
His work is the slap in the face that we all need to wake up to
the fact that the world is not a bed of roses. Yet in contrast,
he is still able to capture gentle moments where he helps us
see humanity and our own fragility.
McCullin’s work taught me the value of honesty, truth and
sacrifice all in the face of trying to find meaning in the middle
of madness. Fame means nothing and being true to ourselves
is a quality that we should value the most. The camera is a
tool, photography is the language, but your beliefs are the
heart of the image and what count the most.
STEVE SIMON < www.thepassionatephotographer.com> < www.stevesimonphoto.com> < twitter.com/stevesimon>
I was drawn to the work of Eugene Richards, whose work stopped
me in my tracks. I invested a lot of money and made my way from
Edmonton, Alberta, to Rockport, Maine, for his workshop. How did
he get so emotionally and physically close to his subjects? There
was a powerful emotional intimacy to his work, and I learned that
concentration, patience, passion and respect for his subjects were
some of the answers. I realized I was not making the work I really
wanted to be making. He inspired me to find a personal project and
go deeper with my camera, breaking free from the shackles of the
daily newspaper assignment work I was doing at the time. I was
encouraged to be open and to unlearn some processes that had
become formulaic and were preventing me from moving beyond
my comfort zone. He taught us what it feels like to be vulnerable in
front of the camera, which gave me more empathy for my subjects.
I learned to slow down and to make time to capture the work I
was after through patience and perseverance. All these lessons
continue to influence how and what I photograph.
Ansel Adams. As a young novice grappling with the strange underpinnings of 35mm photography, I sought guidance from every direction.
As such, I was challenged to reconcile approaches that weren’t always
consistent or complementary. Then I discovered Adams, whose
black-and-white visions became my epitome of artistic photography.
His series of photo manuals (my first was Camera and Lens) provided
insights into the medium with a scientific flair that demystified what
for me was an undefined art form. His discussion of subject previsual-ization laid a foundation I’ve never forgotten. Despite paradigm shifts
in technique and technology, his melding of technical mastery and
artistic expression remains a benchmark for which I strive.
MARK ALBERHASKY < www.imagema.com>