My Artistic Process: Guest Post by Robert Madden
We have really enjoyed connecting with photographers and learning more about what inspires their craft and how they got into photography. We’ve had many photographers reach out and we wanted to share an example of one photographer’s exploration into their creative and technical process. Thank you Robert for sharing!
An artist must be available to recognize the nuances, the proverbial silver lining, the vulnerability existing in all life, even in the hardest of subjects. Since one can only see that which he is tuned into, an artist’s own vulnerability is paramount, access to it mandatory. An artist must be willing to expand beyond his known capacity, to absorb more life than he has known before. It is our job to witness and record the love, the truth of every situation, for this is the beauty of life. Artists don’t see the world as it is; we see it as we know it can be.
My work has evolved into, what I consider, Abstract Expressionism. I am taking what I’ve photographed, out of the context in which it exists, creating something entirely new from it. It’s an intuitive process, creatively and technically, as I’m not so much a technical photographer, as I am an artist who uses a camera.
I came to photography from a marketing background, so when I decided to give my complete attention to the development of my artwork as a business, I knew there were specific things I needed to put into place.
Before anything else, I wrote a mission statement. It is a concise, specific statement regarding where I wanted to go with the endeavor on which I was embarking. It is a deliberate intention, put to paper, setting a direction for my attention and actions. Now, I can see what I want it to be and, as a result, it becomes more tangible, making it easier to set up practical action around it.
Having this focal point of where I wanted to go, I asked myself, how would my day look if I was living that now? What would a World Class Artist do as a daily routine? I realized right away; I needed to arrange my day as though I was living at this level of involvement, of creativity, as well as the production of my work. If I began living as though I was this accomplished artist, setting my intention with deliberate thought of living from there, all of the people, places and things in support of that idea, would begin to swirl around me. Every cooperative force in Creation aligns with this vibration and pulls matter together to manifest reality, in support of all involved.
I believe no two people ever come together for the benefit of only one. I’ve learned from friends who are photographers, some camera adjustments, where I would start and then stretch the boundaries of what these settings can do. I love my camera because it’s operation is intuitive for me. I learn something new at every shoot, at every conversation, in every editing session, at every gallery opening, in every experience.
When I approach an environment to shoot, I observe, allowing subjects to appear. I shoot every day at dawn or dusk, so this beautiful light and quiet time opens me to deeper meaning, creating broader possibilities. I wander into imagination, expanding my capacity to understand; Whatever one can imagine, exists! Worlds open to me through scratches, scrapes, dents, and smudges; in rust, decay and things tossed aside. Mountains, forests, plains, oceans, beaches and cities, appear along with otherworldly landscapes and the beings who inhabit them.
Uploading the day’s work for editing, is one of my favorite parts of the day. Usually, there are three tiers in this process; 1st are the “Obvious”, 2nd the “Oh Yeah’s”, and 3rd are the “WOW, that’s in there?” If I were to choose which stage of my process I would want to live in, it would be this editing stage. When I see something emerge that’s outrageous in some way, I get so excited, I have to call someone and say, “Look at what I got today!” Fortunately, most of my friends are excited to see, so the response is encouraging. As with every other part of my process, the way I edit is intuitive too. I do adjustments using the shadows, contrast, saturation, sharpness and out pops what has called me to take the picture.
What attracts me is what astonishes me or makes me laugh. This is the thread running through everything I shoot, whether it’s sections of recognizable things, patterned surfaces, or beaten up alleys. This work excites me, stimulates me, connecting me emotionally to something I remember, desire to experience or strive to be. I love a great story, and there’s one in every piece.
Rarely, I will have to crop something or straighten it, otherwise, I enjoy capturing the entire scene in the camera. I don’t arrange anything, brush anything off, set anything up, or touch anything I am shooting. I like the stipulation that it is as I have found it.
As a rule of habit, I like to edit everything I’ve shot on a given day, that same night or at least by the night after. This way I stay current and don’t allow too much of the creative vibration to dissipate before I get to work on them.
It’s important I have fun. It is essential I be creative. For me to approach the structure of a business eagerly, I must find ways of creatively making every task interesting, so I stay interested and the business maintains balance. I’ve established when I photograph and when I edit, which leaves the middle of the day, networking, returning correspondence, publishing work and posting to as many different art/photography sites as is appropriate. Now I can focus on cultivating an audience for my work.
I’m an artist because, as stated in my very first journal, I want to invite people to look at things around them, they wouldn’t usually look at, in ways they wouldn’t usually look. There are worlds of breathtaking beauty all around us. Take some time to enjoy.
— Robert Madden
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