Thursday, September 11, 2014

Inspired by Alexandra de Steigeur

I photograph and write in an attempt to understand my place within this larger context, to delve deeply into a subject that has become familiar, and yet retains mystery.

   I was transported by Alexandra de Steigeur's powerful images of the stark reality of Star Island in the winter months.  Stripped of the hustle and bustle of the summer season, it reverts to its raw essence of sea, sky and rock.

   Attending her lecture while I was on Star was a gift and her passion for both her subject and her medium, monochrome photography, resonated with me on so many levels.  I had put aside my first love for the black and white image for the recent color work that has occupied me over the last year.  Now I felt I was ready to return to the monochrome was an "Ah Ha" moment for me which I spoke about in an earlier post.

   It wasn't just a shift in medium that I gain from hearing Alex and looking at her images, it was a shift in focus as well.  I am always turning my eye to the small view; the intimate detail of the landscape.  Alex encourages us to consider the "big picture"...the more universal connection we share with the vastness of Nature which is so profoundly felt on this little island.  She calls this the "oceanic effect".  It is what she experienced as she sailed the Atlantic on a tall ship.

    And finally, I found inspiration in her adherence to a contemplative lifestyle that puts a greater premium on being with the landscape than on doing the photography...the need to be totally present and open to what the landscape has to say and not imposing one's will on either the place or the creatures that live there.  I hope to take this inspiration to the pond when next I visit.

Without the camera, I loved going outside. It didn't matter that the light be "just right", or the day dramatic. Only with the camera was there a certain expectation. I spent more time looking than appreciating, more time searching than seeing.

    Being a photographer can be a blessing and a curse, simultaneously.  If the head dominates the heart, which it often does as we struggle with technical considerations, when making takes precedent over meaning then the whole concept of the contemplative eye is lost for me.  I must remind myself every day that the personal encounter is my primary goal, not the finished photograph.



kimmanleyort said...

What an inspiration she was! I liked how she also said we could imply vast perspectives in small details.

Patricia Turner said...

Yes, seeing the world in a grain of sand.

Carol said...

I have her book right here on my coffee table and I page through it so often. I have also tld several other people about it who are ordering. She and her book are inspirational!

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you Carol! I love her work and I think of her now, out on that island all alone. Amazing woman in so many ways.