I don’t know about you but I love the four seasons. They each have their prime characteristics, but being a photographer the thing that means the most is the light. Summer light is so very different from winter or even fall, so the date on the calendar influences not only when I shoot but also what I shoot. The date also influences what I wear, what I carry and perhaps most importantly how I feel. I’ve been in the southern spaces for so long now I simply can’t handle any kind of real winter yet the light associated with winter is perhaps the best for my photographic style and application. Dark light, weak in its power yet angled like I want, is what I want more than anything else, but what I rarely find myself walking in. I actually dream about this light, especially when I wake up in Southern California to a seemingly endless supply of cloudless skies.
Most of time I’m in climates with hot light. Optimum only in the wee hours of morning and the last gasp of dusk. Summer light is often this way too. Harsh. Good before eight AM and then gone until the breeze brings in the first taste of sunset. Summer to me feels like color, so I shoot more color when the middle months apply. Often times my summer imagery itself is hot. Perhaps I overexpose my primary work, definitely my portraits, and I actually use the light to accentuate the garish nature of unbridled, midday sun. But winter is oh so different. Winter to me is about black and white, grain, contrast, darkness and mood, and I try to reflect that in the work. I want you, the viewer, to FEEL what it felt like when I made those pictures. I want your eyes to water in the wind and your lips to feel the chap of oncoming snow and night.
A few years ago I ventured to Paris to work on a project. I landed in the middle of nationwide strikes but also a freak cold snap that reduced the city to a mostly deserted, moody ghost town. Due to the strikes I found myself walking long distances at the mercy of the frigid temps. This reality had a dramatic impact on my work. I ONLY shot black and white. It felt right, and the leafless trees, strikes and somber skies SCREAMED for black and white. But not to be too harsh I decided to tone the images to add a slight amount of warmth back in. There isn’t really a right or wrong here people, only what you as the image maker wish to convey. On this trip, and at most points during winter, I feel like a black and white guy. Summer, well, bring back the color negative.
As photographers we ask a lot. We ask for attention, for appreciation and consideration, and to ask these things we need to use every tool at our disposal including the power of nature. So as we find ourselves angling toward the end of yet another summer, a scary thought, let’s think about angling towards a new take on early fall.