Overthinking Favorites

Friday evening Emily and I had an initial consultation with a bride and groom that are considering booking us to photograph their wedding and engagement. Wonderful couple, tons of fun to talk with and get to know! They are both artists and really shared their appreciation for our work, which always means so much to us especially when it comes from the mouth of other creatives.

As we were wrapping up the meeting the bride (who majored in Photography herself) turns and asks “who’s your favorite photographer?”. You would think that I would have a quick answer being how much I surround myself with the works of other photographers, but it really caught me off guard.

A favorite photographer? I mean, I have plenty of photographers that I admire. Elliot Erwitt, Annie Leibovitz, Jeremy Cowart, Yosuf Karsh, Richard Avedon, Keith Carter, Daido Moriyama, Sam Jones, Saul Leiter, Edward Weston, Ryan Muirhead, Jan Sholz to name a few. But could I really choose one that I could give the label of FAVORITE?

I understand that the question was most likely from the direction of what photographer(s) off the top of my head would I suggest that she check out. But, it’s really got me thinking, is there one photographer that has had the largest impact on my current body of work and artistic theory? I mean, sure the decisive moment plays into so much of what I’m looking for in my street photography, but I wouldn’t really say Bresson has had that large of a direct impact on my work. The lighting styles of Karsh has really inspired me throughout the years, as well as Richard Avedons idea of getting his sitters to forget the camera is even there. But to say they have single handedly shaped and changed the way I take photos may be a stretch.

Maybe I’m looking to far into this. Maybe it’s simply a question of who’s photos do I like best, but as you can tell through my recent posts I am in a season of digging further and not resting on easy answers.

On the spot I gave her two names: Fan Ho & Chema Madoz. From simply a “whose photos inspire you the most” point of view, I feel these still remain very honest answers. I would even add Fred Mortagne to that list right now. All 3 of these artists have a very visually simplistic style with much depth and soul to the subject matter that absolutely astonishes me. However, if I were to look at “favorite” as in who’s work and creative theory has impacted my thought process and body of work the most… Right now I would probably say Jay Maisel is at the top of that list. Not only does his immense body of work inspire me on a regular basis, I have watched… and re-watched… and re-watched… etc.. all the interviews and workshops I have been able to find of his (especially his classes on KelbyOne). His thick New Yorker accent and 62 (SIXTY-TWO!) years of photographic experience under his belt has fed my creative thinking for the past 5 years since coming across his first class on what was then Kelby Training.

I’ll leave the lessons I’ve taken from Jay as well as the other photographers who have inspired me as topics for another article. I just wanted to share the internal dialog I was having after being asked that question on Friday evening. Again I realize this post and my thoughts may have been over thinking the matter, but it was a rewarding experience to think beyond the photos and photographers I enjoy, to who has had a lasting impact on my current artistic process.

Hopefully this post will inspire you to think about which photographer(s) have not only inspired you, but has directly impacted your artistic process and mindset over the years. I would love to hear your list of favorites! Let’s see how large of a index of inspirational and insightful photographers we can get in the comments below.

-Nick

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