Making images is a form of knowing. And, every media used to make images with is a different way of coming to that understanding. Because they each offer unique experiences and perspectives, I work in many media simultaneously, comparing and contrasting them to get a fuller picture of what’s really there and what more is going on. In the end, I make many studies before distilling them into the new works they bring to completion. I think of them as necessary pieces of a puzzle to find a bigger picture or waypoints of discovery to find a journey’s end.
Painters’ and sculptors’ studies are often shared, on some occasions side-by-side with final works in both exhibits and publications. When you consider them it’s clearer that one is more finished or at the very least that the other is less finished. These preliminary works shed light on how more finished results were arrived at and by extension the intents of the artists. What stayed the same. What was eliminated. What was added. Sometimes studies even show works that are never completed. Though they’re rarely valued as highly as the finished works these preliminary works are prized and collected both for their historic and aesthetic values.
The production of motion pictures is significantly different. They’re usually made by teams of people. One team creates concept art and storyboards before another team makes exposures and still another team edits and sequences those before their selections are enhanced by yet another team. Sometimes, the preliminary works are presented on their own in separate but related creations.
What is a study for a photographer? Do photographers not make studies? It’s hit or miss – nothing in between. Or can a photographer’s studies be found in all the exposures that for one reason or another didn’t quite make it: the exposure was too dark or too light; the focus was misplaced; the moment was missed; there was too much or too little in the frame; the idea had not yet become clear, the feeling fell flat. Few photographers draw with anything other than light and if they do their studies are rarely shown as if the final images arrived instantly out of nothing, but they rarely do. The getting there is sometimes told but rarely shown.
Working with all of these media and mindsets, I make studies to explore and develop the ideas found in my finished works. Many of the pieces collected along the way are interesting on their own, not just because they shed light on how other images were produced. My ebook Studies is not the fuller exploration of my creativity that you’ll find in my other ebook Process but rather a curation of images selected from hundreds of thousands that stand up on their own while showing the development of my understanding of specific aspects of my work. After viewing this book, your understanding of these ideas may be enhanced as mine has been through the production of it. At the very least, I hope you take pleasure in sharing this journey.