I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now as thought I’ve never really spoken about inspirational photography that moves and speaks to me, and that draws me into the story that it is telling.   For me all those things are key in a good photograph.

You may be surprised to read that this is a post that doesn’t involve wedding photography.   Yes there are incredible and mind bogglingly talented wedding photographers out there who are inspirational in their own right in what they create, but for me I find looking elsewhere away from what I do really interesting.

 


Elliott Erwitt. New York City 1953

 

My photography book collection which grows yearly consists solely of street, landscape and portrait photography.

A few favourite photographers dominate, Elliott Erwitt being one.  The image above of his wife and new baby is one of my favourite of his, I guess because how it simply coveys the message of love between a mother and a child in a single frame.   The cat in the foreground balances the image along with some lovely window light.

Street photography is such an incredible skill and one I never tire of looking at.   Layering an image is a key component to good street photography and one of the masters of doing this is Alex Webb.

Alex Webb. Thessaloniki, Greece, 2003

 

Alex Webb’s inspiring book, The Suffering of Light, is an incredible read.  The story telling nature of how he shoots really absorbs you into an image, and his skill at layering does just that.   It’s all about finding something, anything, that may at first seem mundane and ordinary and then it’s a waiting game.  Waiting for the right elements to enter the frame at the right time, this may happen quickly, slowly, or not even at all so patience is required to get the perfect shot.


Alex Webb. Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, 1996

 

The other side of street photography which I love is the one that captured day to day life in times gone by.   The photographer that caught my attention from day one, not only in what she documented but also her story is Vivian Maier.

Her story, if you haven’t heard of her before, is that she wasn’t a known photographer at all, but a quiet unassuming nanny living in New York City and Chicago during the second half of the twentieth century.

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Vivian Maier. Florida 1960

 

Photographing ‘from the hip’, ie not holding a camera up to her eye, allowed her to go largely unnoticed and to capture normal folk doing normal things in a time where such were simply not commonly photographed.  These are scenes that happened that one time and then never again.   It’s that instinctive nature to press the shutter button when you ‘feel’ something is right, and Vivian certainly had that within her.

Shooting from waist level is a great and also discreet way to shoot and is something I do a lot of in my documentary wedding photography.

Sadly Vivian’s work was only discovered after she had passed away and a chance discovery was made of her numerous rolls of film in a storage unit.


Vivian Maier. New York City 1959

 

For me to stand out in landscape photography is the challenge of not only finding something new, in a world that’s been very well photographed in the last 100 years, but also adding your only personal take on what you’re about to shoot.   Max Rive sometimes adds a human element to his landscapes which I love and really adds scale, and with 1.8 million followers on Instagram I’m not the only fan.


Max Rive. Sunset Thorsmork, Iceland

 

I can’t write this post and not mention Don McCullin who is one of my all time favourite photographers.  I went and visited his exhibition at Tate Britain last year where he had personally printed every one of the images that were displayed there, and it was quite simply an incredible body of work.

Mainly working in black and white, his work included documenting the poverty of London’s East End, the horrors of wars in Africa, Asia or the Middle East, to capturing peaceful landscapes of the countryside around his home in Somerset.

Don’s work will be exhibited at the Tate Liverpool this summer so I urge you to go and visit if you get a chance.

Don McCullin.  Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968

 

Lastly, and is a genre very close to my heart is portrait photography.  I’ve been running my Ginger Cat Studios brand for couple of years now, shooting fine art portraiture, and it has been one of the most rewarding journeys I could ever have imagined.

To be able to create an image of someone that can covey all kinds of emotions and feelings in a viewer is a very special thing.  As a photographer you have to go with your gut, be brave and to light and photograph in a way that creates those feelings in you.  If that happens then it will inevitably be received in the same way.

Annie Leibovitz is the master of portrait photography for me.  Her work is constantly inspiring and there is something about the way that she photographs a subject that speaks a thousand words.  Do check out her work if you haven’t done so before  as you will see what I mean.

Annie Liebovitz.   Eddie Redmayne in Les Miserables for Vogue Magazine.

 

Hope that provides a little insight into what does it for me.  Photography has such huge range of genres I personally find it inspiring to delve into all of it.  If you fancy looking into any of the above photographers further I’ve added some Amazon (affiliate) links below if you want to add one of their books to your collection.

 

Elliot Erwitt Personal Best

Alex Webb The Suffering of Light

Vivian Maier

Annie Liebovitz at Work  

Don Mccullin