Monday, December 13, 2010

Influences: Silly Putty and T1000

As an aside, I sometimes I need to reference old blog posts. But when I skim the titles of my old posts, I can never find what I'm looking for. The problem lies in my "title naming convention". My post titles are so randomly named and fragmented in thought that I never know what the hell the post is about just by looking at the title. Which is to say that I'm a moron. 10 months from now I'm going to be looking for this post and I'll look at the post and really think that I've written some crap about silly putty and the Terminator T1000.



All joking aside, I was going to touch upon influences. Recently I've been looking at Terry Richardson's work and marveling at his ability to capture human elements in still images. I've also been following a few photographers that lean towards Richardson's work. This is unusual for the following reasons:

1) I used to hate Terry Richardson. I used to think he was a talentless hack. But guess who's the real moron? Me, for not appreciating the humanness of his captures.

2) I don't usually take in too much in the form of influence. 95% of my time is spent producing pictures and at most 5% is spent absorbing influences.

I'm gonna talk about #2. I'll save #1 for another time.

I don't watch much TV. I never read the newspaper (anymore). I hardly touch magazines. I don't surf the interwebz much either. You could say I live in a cave or a hole whichever is darker and more removed from the world. Hell, I'm practically a beard away from being a hermit... except I'm Asian and I can't grow a proper beard to save my life.

All joking aside, I know a lot of photographers that enjoy taking in multiple influences regularly, subscribing to blogs, RSS feeds, etc. and it got me thinking.

What the hell is wrong with me?

A quick Google search for "what the hell is wrong with me?" reveals that I am (according to Yahoo! Answers) suffering from adolescence or in other words, puberty. Doing some quick math in my head, at my age it would appear that I am a "late bloomer" if I were in fact suffering from puberty... although I do have many of the insecurities mentioned
here LOL :)

In all seriousness, I don't take in many influences because I'm too easily influenced. Having a short attention span, I am too easily swayed and molded by others' work. In that sense I'm like silly putty.

The other problem is that I haven't fully developed my own style. If I take in too many influences right now I think I might just fall apart and totally lose my identity (not like I really know who I am anyway). In that sense, I'm the amorphous liquid metal in Terminator 2 when the T1000 (Robert Patrick) becomes a puddle of metal. More specifically I'm the puddle of liquid metal trying to take the form of someone/something but if you touch it while it's trying to take form, it might collapse/splash back into a puddle of liquid metal. Maybe not as depicted in the movie because the T1000 was practically invincible but I feel fragile like a puddle of liquid metal :)

Speaking of the amorphous nature of liquids, my influences are constantly changing so with everything being as dynamic as it is, it's really hard to pin anything down.

I also limit my influences so I can really spend some time studying them rather than flipping through them like a page-flip animation. I need time to absorb the stylistic innuendos and details.

Or maybe I just can't admit that there's so much work out there better than mine ;P

The point is really that there's no right answer. Some people need lots of influences and sometimes those influences can serve as inspiration. Others like myself need to limit those influences so they don't get scattered. The better you understand your modus operandi the better you'll be at optimizing personal growth :)


  1. Howdy Charles,

    I personally like flipping through magazines and browsing images from other photographers often. It lets me know what's going on out there and to see if anything catches my eye. If I don't do that, I sometimes get lost in an endless feedback loop taking the same kinds of photos over and over again. But that's just me.

  2. I AM in an endless feedback loop of taking/making the same kinds of photos over and over again :P

    That IS me :) haha!

  3. TV is a waste of time. Would you rather put that time into developing yourself as an artist, or wasting it away not making money? It's your choice. 10, 000 hours to perfect your craft, what do you prefer? :)

    Also, I don't even pay attention to news also. Again, waste of time. It's all just death and murders anyways. The world is crumbling, might as well look and make beautiful things such as pictures.

    Reading and seeing other peoples work is good in small doses. Otherwise, you're again wasting time and developing envy. That can't be healthy.

    No, its better to keep doing your own thing. You'll be much happier for doing so.


  4. Good to see someone who sees it my way too! Cheers! Here's to smaller doses of envy :P