Friday, January 29, 2010

Photography Inspirations

When I first started taking photos I had the idea in my head that I wanted to take beautiful portraits or maybe shoot fashion. I’ve found lately that my true passion lies with telling peoples’ stories and showing the stunning complexity in nature. As my world of photography has been expanded through my years at CMU, my constant travel, and viewing exhibits, I have come to admire many photographers. Though many photos make me think and keep me on the creative path, there are a few photographers whose body of work and talent I wish I had.

One of my main inspirations is Art Wolfe, who is an international photographer and instructor. He and his work give me the desire to travel and explore everything around me as opposed to just stagnating. Wolfe photographs people, buildings, animals, landscape, and anything that catches his eye. He has a good sense of composition, lighting, moment, and detail. Perhaps his best work involves animals and nature as opposed to people and their environment. Like Wolfe, I want to refine my work so that I can specialize in a certain type of photography, but still be skilled and versatile enough to do all kinds of work. I admire his ability to wait for certain situations to arise in nature and his knowing of when to click the shutter. Wolfe inspires me to explore my camera settings, be patient for good moments, and be quick to capture them. His website is And clips of his show Travels to the Edge is on Youtube.

Another of my main inspirations is Unembedded. It is a book and national touring exhibit by four independent journalists who spent years photographing the Iraq war. The group was made up of two woman and two men who work outside of the U.S military embedding program in order to get closer to their subjects and shoot the war from the view point of the Iraqi people. This collection of photographs gave me the ambition to be a war photographer. The summer before my junior year at college I did not have enough money to return to CMU to finish my degree. My loans had been denied and although I was working two jobs I wasn’t getting anywhere. I met with NAVY recruiters who told me about Combat Camera and that the program only accepts 1,000 people. My chances at that point of getting trained in that field were slim so I decided to wait to join. However, the work of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford, Throne Anderson, and Rita Leistner still makes me want to travel and show the world people’s stories behind the conflict. I want my photographs to have the power to give the world a wake up call.

The website for Unembedded is Each photographer's gallery is listed under index. Their work inspires me to get more involved with the subjects to the point that there are no longer just subjects but are human beings. I want to learn that fine line of becoming too involved but to be able to let my passion show through. All of the photos are dynamic, make you think, and want to stare and look away at the same time. This inspires me to have my work make people want to gaze at it for a long time and contemplate the stories of the people. The access in unbelievable and inspires me to stop being shy and push my limits. And all of the photos of people show emotion. This is what I really want to be able to do. I want to be able to convey that happiness, anger, sadness, and shock as well as these photographers.

And last but not least of my inspirations in National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg. I admire him because he started off not even going to school for journalism or photography and eventually started working for a few papers. After less than a year he submitted photos to National Geographic and started working as freelancer. Awhile later they accepted him as a contract photographer and he has done that now for around 30 years while also having work published in magazines like Life and Newsweek. He inspires me to just stop doubting and waiting for the right moment but to get out there and just take risks and do all I want to do. Brandenburg also has good control of light and a good eye for composition. He works at many angles to get his shots and takes photos at all depths of field. What I take from his work into my own style is that I want to experiment with my angles, heights, focal lengths, and settings to achieve the best photo. Brandenburg’s photos have a style to them so that they look very skilled and technical but at the same time like an un-posed piece of life. I want to keep in mind all the elements in my photos and control my settings but not be too busy to just shoot. He also has mastered taking pictures in all kinds of weather. I admire this and would like to perfect the shots I take on cloudy, rainy, snowy, foggy, and any other less than perfect days. Brandenburg’s website is: