Artist Statement - Joe Lategan
My vocation is to create FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHS that reminds people that we are losing the memory of what makes nature natural. The animals and Indigenous plants make way for parking lots and office blocks. Clean blue skies are being choked by unwelcomed molecules produced by man. Hearts that were beating in the chests of species for eons are going silent every day... for good. The natural world disappears as we humans live our modern lives that demand more and more resources to built homes and toys that are bigger and look better than the previous model or that of the neighbours Beautiful historical buildings are being stripped down by the force of entropy. We are succumbing to a perverse nature of deficit disorder.
Our inner landscapes are also choked by the speed of the digital age. With this our personalities and characters up also changes.
Photography can help us reclaim and remember our identities as part of the natural world. To me capturing an image is an uncontrollable act of love, forcing me to travel, stop, look, and look again, to feel whatever it is that I’m seeing, and perhaps even to assimilate some aspect of the scene into the core of my being. It is a way of saying; wait lets pay attention- I saw this, this moment, had this experience and it was important to me and it just might be important to you, the viewer, if you were to see it too. It will never be enough to capture the image just for myself. It is meant to share with others and sometimes only one! Sometimes I only discover the true reason for capturing an image years after capturing it and knowing it would not sell but keeping it on public display for some unknown but deeper reasons will reward me when someone will make an emotional or physical connection with the image instantly. This is much more rewarding than the money I could’ve received for an image more sellable than that one.(Read more about “ Divine intervention” on my blog JoeLategan.com) It can also take decades to be emotionally and spiritually ready to capture a scene or subject. Something I have driven past for decades and something will then make me stop and capture a scene with mixed feelings or no real connection but the moment the image is opened on the computer it will rattle me to the core spiritually and I guess emotionally as well. This is the reason I believe photography is a calling and only those that responds to it being a calling can be successful.
In the words of James Balog photography is thus an antidote to disorientation of our time, it replaces fragmentation with focus, forgetting with memory, indifference with affection. Image makers are the eyes of civilization -discovering framing and interpreting reality-and we can play a major role in the shaping how humanity perceives and responds to the world around us. Goals of this magnitude can require tremendous effort.
I share the words of other masters that A FINE ART PHOTOGRAPH is an image that is both artistically inspired and technically excellent at the same time. Just one or the other is not enough. Technique without art to me is called chaos, while art without good technique prevents the viewer from truly enjoying the work. To me a work of art is the product of a person, not of a machine only. For this reason a photograph printed straight from the original, captured either on film or digital is unsatisfying. Such an image represents the output of my camera rather than the expression of my emotions and reflection of my inner spirit.
As a fine art photographer the most unique talent is to select the subject to capture, I can to some extent choose the type of light, composition, lens, equipment and other technical aspects of the image, but I have very little control over the artistic aspects of my work during image capture. I need to work on my photographs after I have captured the image to satisfy my creativity. For me, the creative aspect of photography starts mostly after the image had been recorded by the camera. There are exceptions during moments that are so perfect that nothing can alter or improve the moment that was captured. Otherwise it is then after the image have been captured that I’m able to infuse the image with the emotional content that I experienced while being at the location where I took the photograph. To this end I do to the image everything that I deem necessary to match my feeling at the time. On the level of image adjustments I first adjust the levels, global colour balance and the global contrast of the image to my taste. I then focus on individual colours and work towards making them the exact tonalities that I desire. Similarly I adjust contrast so that it reflects the feeling of open, glowing light or of deep mysterious shadows, according to my memories and feelings of the original scene.
Composition and collages
With regards to composition, I sometimes collage multiple captures into a single image from time to time. These images will be labeled as collages. The goal of the collages is to expand the field of view represented in the image far beyond what a single capture can show, even when the photograph is created with the widest lens available. These collages have the added benefit of representing time as well as space. Because the different images that compose the final work are taken over a span of time, which can vary from a few seconds to 25 minutes or more, the resulting collage shows the variation of light, the movement of clouds and the changes in other moving elements that took place during the time required to complete the image captures.
Cloning, dodging and burning
I also clone elements that I deem unnecessary or not aesthetically pleasing. These elements are rarely “trash” (empty cans and other litter as I can easily remove these prior to taking the photographs. Rather these elements are either natural features that I can modify in the original scene or elements that I did not “see” when I took the original captures. These for example include branches or twigs intruding into the borders of the image, patterns on textures that are incomplete or visually unsatisfying and any other unwanted elements. So whether I do minor cloning, burning or dodging or erase a twig that impacts upon the aesthetic value of the image it always must be believable and a representation of the actual scene. For instance a twig could have been broken off to clear the frame of the capture for this reason but I would rather remove it post capture digitally than intruding on nature. A branch or flower that has been covered in shade in the capture could for instance be slightly lit up to bring out the actual colour of the flower. So the true colour in natural light is still represented. Basically like the eye sees it.
With my Artography styled photographs I once again do not alter the actual scene in any way besides radically changing the frequency of light reflected off the subject, visual to the viewer. (Bending the angle of light visible to the human eye or changing the spectrum). No colour is added by filtering or otherwise.
All Rights Reserved. All Images/Artwork/Fine Art Photography - Copyright Joe Lategan © 2013