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Body of Work

Digital photography has given us many wonderful options that we never had before, but some of these options can be a two-edged sword. There is no longer a cost associated with each shutter click, so we tend to capture without thought or purpose. There are uncounted snapshots for each artistic photograph, and if we’re not careful we can lose the wheat amongst the chaff in our own digital libraries. Shoot, but shoot with a purpose, and remember, it’s always better to get it right (meaning close to your vision) in the camera than to rely on the computer later. There are exceptions, though (as you saw in Carrie’s sidebar); it’s better to capture a technically poor photograph than to miss a moment completely.

In the end, take your images—either captured on your smartphone on the spur of the moment or with a Nikon DSLR after waiting hours in the rain for the right moment—back to the studio, bring them into your image library, and take a moment to reflect on your whole catalog. Do you have a group of photographs of a single subject like trees, hills, antiquity, ruins, joy, embers, sea walls, nature’s fury, illusions, monoliths, snowscapes, relics, textures, solitude, food, sunsets, passages, or time? Does a story emerge? Grab those images and bring them to a collection. There’s a body of work.

Or perhaps it’s the reverse. Has something inspired you recently, like a particular sunset, story, sermon, laugh, or vacation? Then go out and take a series of photographs that reflect the idea; I did that in my Illusions series (Figures 4.7 and 4.8), which you can also see on my website, www.lhotka.com. All of the photographs were taken through distorted methods (wrinkled mirrored Mylar, water, window glass, fountains, or a handmade fluid filter). The distortion brought a commonality to the images that made the series work.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7. This 48" x 48" UV-cured pigment on acrylic is titled Tree Farm.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8. This 48" x 48" UV-cured pigment on acrylic is titled Tree Farm Row Two.

Another of my series is based on one two-hour experience while being caught in an ice and fog storm. Since it was too dangerous to drive, I pulled out my camera and started taking photos of what I thought was nothing but white shadows. Through the magic of digital manipulation I was able to pull images out of the fog, and the crystalline reality drove me to create the pearloid process I share in Section 4 (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9. Processes are driven by artistic intent, not the other way around. A 30" x 40" pearloid image from my Foothills collection.

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