The first day, in all my classes, I talked about working, photographing, in a new place, especially a place as beautiful as Lacoste. It's easy to be seduced by, even blinded by the beauty of this place. The challenge is figuring out how to get past that surface and produce work that has substance.
It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with pretty pictures. They have a place. Certainly I wouldn't discourage anyone from taking photographs that will sell. Our Vernissage is coming in seven weeks and I'll be very happy if my students sell a lot. And making pictures that show friends and family at home what a striking environment Provence is- well, that's OK, too.
The problem is if one stops at that surface and doesn't take the time to explore what's beneath. An artist asking themselves the right questions can help. What makes this place unique? What is special about the quality of light here? What is it like living in a place where one routinely encounters structures that were built years, even centuries before America was even discovered? What are the people like? How do they live? What is the experience of being a foreigner like? How does it feel to be unable to communicate with the checkout person at a grocery store?
At the same time, I know I've been seduced, too. I'm taking pretty pictures with unabashed pleasure.
I admit it- I can't help myself. But I hope I'm also making pictures that aren't quite as predictable.
And the portraits I've begun working on, like Jean Pierre, certainly qualify as a start to scratching to see what's behind that beautiful facade. There will be two posts later today with additional portraits, as well.
In the meantime, if you'd like to see more pretty pictures, go here here and here.