Lesson 2: Influence & Inspiration

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    While brainstorming this assignment I thought long and hard about where to start. I wanted to take this assignment seriously and really consider my answer, so I bought a book entitled The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time. While the work of every photographer in this book was definitely impressive and inspirational, most of it lacked a certain modern, deep, edgy feel that I am most drawn to. I have a desire to create photographs that exude irony and make you think about the limits of what is considered reality.

    I did come across a few incredible photographers online whose art really speaks to me, such as Erik Almas. His grasp of surrealism is very inspiring. He has a way of taking an ordinary scene and making it seem imaginary. I can only dream that my photography will have that effect on someone someday. However, the truth is that Erik Almas, no matter how truly talented, is not the most influential photographer in my life after having spent only an hour reviewing his portfolio. He also had nothing to do with my decision to get into photography, so I decided to move in a different direction and thought long and hard again for a while.

    [attachment=2:1xl3h7eb]Eric Almas.png[/attachment:1xl3h7eb]

    One day, while surfing Craigslist I saw a listing for a Kodak portable camera from the 1940s. It was a Kodak Vigilant Junior to be exact. It was a little smaller than a VHS tape when folded up and it folded out accordion style to reveal the lens and controls. It uses 620 film. I decided to buy it since it was rather inexpensive and I was excited to own a piece of history, not that it is really worth much monetarily. I bought some film for it on eBay, but have not taken any pictures with it yet. However, having this camera in my possession got me thinking (… long and hard again… You guessed it!) about the old Eastman Kodak Company and how they have been charged with bringing the portable camera to the masses by making it easy to use and affordable.

    [attachment=1:1xl3h7eb]kodak vigilant.jpg[/attachment:1xl3h7eb]

    Prior to the release of such smaller, inexpensive cameras, photography was really only for professionals and the wealthy. Neither of which I am. My thought process was that Eastman & Kodak were the most influential photographers in my life. Even though they are known for their inventions rather than their art photography, they were still photographers! Without them my hard working, but not very well-to-do, mother may not have had the opportunity to take those embarrassing pictures of me bathing naked in the sink as a toddler or the lovely portraits with my embarrassing bangs as an adolescent.

    But wait! Does that mean that my mother is the most influential photographer in my life? (As you can tell, I can sometimes be rather indecisive.) In reality, regardless of the fact that her photos usually cut off someone’s head and lacked most technical skill whatsoever, she was the person who really introduced me to photography. As a matter of fact, I remember that when I was a kid and was about to go away to camp in a few weeks she would give me her camera and help me take pictures of all of the people and things I wanted to be able to have tangible memories of while I was away. Then, after she had the film developed, we would sit together and make them into a collage which she would frame and pack in my suit case for me to take along. I still have some of those collages to this day.


    So that is my final answer, although she lacks technical skill and has not published any great, well-known works, my mother is the most influential photographer in my life. I know that there are many incredible photographers out there that will inspire me as I learn the ropes, but she was the person who got me interested in photography in the first place. Her knack for capturing embarrassing candid memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can only hope it was genetic!

    Duncan Rawlinson

    WOW. Lauren you have written one of the most interesting essays to date on this student forum.

    I’m glad that you took the time and did some research for this assignment. Not only did you research the assignment but you spent time thinking about it. My heart swells with pride when I see work like this. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too weird!

    Mothers have so much influence on our lives. It would be hard for me to say that my mother wasn’t directly involved in getting me into photography. I used to hate it when she would line us up and make us all smile and say cheese!

    I love those photos now.

    She would do something like your mother did for me. She would always ensure that I created a photo album from my photos every time I went anywhere. And now I have this great collection of photos from my youth.

    So I’m glad that you’ve narrowed down who has influenced you and made you the photographer that you are.

    The uniqueness (is that a word?!), the attention to detail, the images, and the personality you injected into your assignment makes for an excellent piece. You have done a fantastic job on this!

    Of course, what’s really important is that you’ve refined the way you think about your photography. Not to mention you now have the work of 50 great photographers sitting on your coffee table!!

    All of this is important for your development as a photographer. Keep your mother in the back of your mind when your shooting.

    Thanks for your submission. It made my day.

    Now, onto the next assignment!!!

    Sorry if I was slow in responding.

    All the best.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Also, I forgot to mention.

    Have you submitted your photo for this month’s competition?

    Check it out here.


    HAHA! I don’t think it’s weird at all! I am very glad that I could make your day 🙂 I have not submitted a picture for the contest yet. I have one shot that I am considering, but I am going to try and take a new one if the opportunity arises since there is some time left to enter. Thanks again for your comments!

    Duncan Rawlinson


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