How Imogen Cunningham captured her nude and floral portraiture has given me a sort of resolution for everything I do. She belonged to a group of photographer’s who were known as “f/64.” The group sought to “define photography as an art form by a simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods.” Her along with Ansel Adams, a landscape photographer from San Francisco, and other photographers from the San Francisco area, wanted to keep their photography as pure as possible. This meant that they did not want to use any special equipment or process to alter the picture from its original form, the original form being how the image was first captured. Imogen has given me a goal to strive towards, to look for that perfect moment, that perfect landscape, and capture it in all of its pure extravagance.
Ever since I was a kid, I had a camera in my hand. I loved cameras and thought that they were the most fascinating things. They captured one instance of a moment and froze it in time for the rest of time. Cameras are the canvas, and the photographer is the painter. They have to bend and paint with light so that they can express the mood of their subject. I was always a landscape photographer and not very good at portrait shots. I was looking for someone that had the same guiding principle as Ansel Adams, but while taking portrait, not landscape shots. Imogen Cunningham was that person. She was able to capture the beauty and emotion of a portrait scene without any post-processing techniques. She was able to capture all of the expression from one person in just one picture. It was by mistake that I found Imogen Cunningham. While looking through Ansel Adams work, I came across a group that he had been a part of; that group was f/64. Together with several others, they created a guiding principle that would last through the ages.
Surprisingly enough, Imogen Cunningham's guiding principle has influenced my writing as well. Her guiding principle was purity. In my writing, the first idea that shoots to my head is what I use. That first idea is pure and untouched by any mental process that might come after that idea. When I put pen to paper or start typing, the first idea that pops into my head is what I go with. I might have another idea or another way of thought that comes to mind when I start to write, but my writing always comes back to that first idea that I have. That first idea is something of a guide. My writing will revolve around that idea and will always lead back to it. The thoughts that I have in my head are what goes down on to paper. I write and write until I can not write anymore. And when I am done writing, I organize the thoughts that I put on paper into a cohesive essay.
Imogen Cunningham said “The thing that is fascinating about portraiture is that nobody is alike.” Just like people, no idea, or thought, or writing, is alike. Each essay that is written, no matter if it is written by the same person, is different. Writing, along with people, evolves over time. No one idea, thought, scene, or writing is like another. That is why I write in the way I do. I take Imogen Cunningham's guiding principle, that purity, in art, is the best form, and apply it to my writing. Dozens of ideas whirl through people's heads, and the only way to keep track of them is to write them down. A novel idea in writing is priceless because it is unique. No idea is the same as the last, and while writing, that first, “gut” instinct idea is the best because of its ingenuity. It is Imogen Cunningham's strive for genuine beauty that inspires my goal for genuine beauty and expression in everything that I create, including my writing.
Here is a video of just a sample of Imogen Cunningham's work:
This is one of my own portrait photographs. I would say that this is one of my best, but I am biased. Unfortunately, I did do some minor editing to this image. But, with each portrait shot I take, I get closer and closer to the goal that Imogen Cunningham has inspired in me.
This is one of Imogen Cunningham's most widely known image's. This picture exemplifies her, and f/64's, manifesto.
For the English 101 Project:
The song on this page was taken from youtube. It was performed by Queens of the Stone Age, and it is entitled "3's and 7's." All rights are reserved to the band and publishing company.