In 2019, I decided to start taking the time to learn the history of photography. I wanted to study the masters of the craft. I wanted to learn from them, from their experience and history, mistakes and successes. I wondered what makes a great photo so great? Why are we drawn to certain photos and not others? Who are the photographers that people say influenced generations of other photographers and why? What was it about their photos or their ethos that made them stand out? I wanted to know the names of these men and women, and be familiar enough with their work that if I saw one of their photos, I’d know who took it without being told.
I started purchasing photo books. I watched documentaries. I spent time researching online and watching YouTube. The lessons I learned helped shape the moments I noticed in a day. They also helped me learn what to anticipate, and how to be ready to capture good, intentional photos based on light, composition, colors, and storytelling.
Because I don’t rely on photography to pay the bills, I have the freedom to experiment and explore and take photos for myself and for my family and for the walls of my home. As I take my camera around with me, I try to find a good balance between capturing moments while also staying intentionally present in them.
Since I’ve started implementing the lessons I’ve learned these last few years, I’ve found my photography has brought me more joy. I take my photos with more intentionality, and because of that my hit rate of a good photo, a photo that I’m proud of, has gone up significantly. Sometimes a photo will stand out to me because it reminds me of a specific photo that I’ve seen from one of these photographers. Over time I’ve used this to help me understand the sorts of photography I enjoy looking at as well as taking.
When I notice the influence of other photographers on my photography it immediately stands out to me. That’s unlikely true for anyone else that happens to see my photos on Instagram or wherever else. So I thought I’d show a few examples of what I mean by being influenced by other photographers.
I initially intended to make one long post including examples from each photographer and my corresponding images, but I’ve decided I’m going to make this a series of posts highlighting an individual photographer.
This series is helping me go through my own catalog of work, allowing me to prep two photo book projects I am working on (finally!). One book will come out this year in 2022, and the other one in 2023.
As I am working on the series, you will be able to click the photographers below once completed to see their influence on me and my photography. Over time I may also add photographers to the list.
ALEC SOTH (coming soon)