DOUG BEASLEY is a highly successful fine art photographer and teacher whose workshops are conducted world-wide. Doug is coming to Honolulu as the co-juror for Contemporary Photography in Hawai‘i 2012: The Fourth Annual Survey Exhibition, Sponsored by UHM Pacific New Media, and to teach a weekend workshop, The Sacred Urban Landscape, on March 10-11. Space still available in the workshop.
Submissions are due on March 4 for the Contemporary Photography Exhibition. Don’t miss out! For information and submission form: http://www.outreach.hawaii.edu/pnm/pdfs/2012EntryForm.pdf
What do you look for in a photograph? What are your indicators that makes an image successful?
I am looking for photos that speak to me, that have something to say. This is completely subjective and it is important to realize it is only my opinion and not fact. It does not mean one photo is better than another. But it is an informed and educated opinion. Yet still opinion, not fact.
I do try and recognize excellence in styles that are not my own or even in styles I am not fond of. It is important to try and take in the breadth of photographic artistry rather then just those images I personally relate to.
I look for photographs that have a sense of mystery, a deeper meaning or even layers of meaning. The composition must be strong and purposeful, not haphazard. The photographer should have an awareness of the whole frame not just subject and background. The intention or ‘voice’ of the photographer should come through. I look for a strong and personal point of view rather than a ‘me too-I can shoot like that’ visual attitude. I want to feel the photographer had a personal connection on some level to their chosen subject rather than finding a random pretty or interesting scene. I would rather see photos with a fresh perspective or an authentic voice than the same tired subjects redone. I would rather the photographer look deeper within his or her self and photograph from an authentic place of connection to the subject rather than copying past photo contest winners-which is a little like coloring inside the lines when you were a kid because you knew you might get praise. I would rather see a photograph that colors outside the lines or erases the lines altogether.
A compelling image may ask more questions than it answers. A good photo leaves room for mystery and interpretation and is more like a poem than a novel. The novel tells you everything in exacting detail but the poem hints at the story in the simplest possible way, removing all that is not essential to get to an essence, leaving room for mystery and interpretation. To me the best photographs show not only what the photographer saw but what and how they felt. This way of interpreting your subject is much harder to do but well worth exploring…
In your workshops, how do you bring people to a place of authenticity, or to their personal vision in image-making?
By helping the participants be more in touch with who they really are at a deep core level and what it is they really want to photograph. It is a process of stripping away layers of wanting to make images to please others or me, or even making images they think others want to see or buy. I try and help them get to the core of what it is they are after or tying to express visually. Once they are in touch with this core information they can start the process to making images for themselves that can be shared with others in whole new way.
What place do you see art or photography occupying in the world, in the larger society?
Providing a means or creative outlet to express oneself is a basic human longing. As we get more and more sophisticated in how we use those tools it is good to stay connected to the basic, primal urge for why we need creative expression in the first place. We want to share with others who we are and what we see/feel/experience and photography is a perfect medium for that.
What is the zen of photography, or the sacred in an image?
Zen & the Art of Photography is simply making, and not taking, photos from that authentic place that express in some manner your personal view of the world or some detail within, while at the same time connecting to the universal. So it becomes universal by being personal. For me it is recognizing in some small way and then expressing a connection to the divine. I am interested in helping others do the same, but finding their own unique way.