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Who Inspires You? – Redux

I spent some time searching the archives of my blog this morning unsuccessfully. Somewhere in the reaches of my brain, I recall a post about who inspires you as a photographer. Perhaps it was back in the earliest (Google Blogger) days. I remember mentioning a couple pros I have had the pleasure of knowing, as well as some talented amateurs who have become friends. The post would have been some years back now. But I don’t think my “list” would have changed.

Important as that may be, my current thinking is a more fundamental inspiration

For some reason, this concept popped back into my meandering thoughts recently – but in a slightly different way. The “inspiration” concept meant “who inspires/ed you; photographically and artistically?” Important as that may be, my current thinking is a more fundamental inspiration.

My dad and his dad were both engineers. I didn’t get those genes. I don’t think I necessarily got the artistic side, either. But I did inherit a great appreciation for both. The personalities of these two men have – perhaps as I have grown older – come through to me as two of the most important “role models,” in my life. Both of them deeply appreciated quality made mechanical things (some may say gadgets, but it goes beyond to more useful items such as tools, cameras and guns). They instilled in me a great admiration for the engineering and craftsmanship that goes into these things – and the distinction between quality-made items and junk.

my initial fascination with photography was not about the art at all

Today, I have nice tools and nice gear. In both categories, I look for quality and don’t buy “junk.” My recent downsize and move to Florida underscored just how much my life has involved tools. I had to give up a nice woodworking shop in Michigan, for lack of space here. I have recently mostly completed setting up my corner-of-the-garage shop here in Florida. The move actually evolved over a 5-year period, and I spent those years down here often missing my tools and my shop.

How does this relate to photography? It occurs to me that my initial fascination with photography was not about the art at all. It was partly about the science – and mostly about the mechanics. A “modern” (for purposes of this writing, manufactured in the 20th or later centuries) camera is a mechanical marvel. There was something almost seductive about that satisfying “click” from the shutter mechanism of those early mechanical SLR cameras made by Nikon, Pentax, Canon, and others.

I have made frequent reference here to the “gearhead” and have “owned” my own tendency to be attracted to nice gear. I will attribute that to my early role models and admit that the “artistic” side of my photography slipped in the back door over the years (or perhaps, just got its foot in the door and is still trying to get the rest of the way in).

There have been many times over the years that, in spite of my nice gear, I have really struggled with the artistic vision side of my photography (kind of like comparing Tom Brady with the equipment manager in terms of the importance of the endeavor 🙂 ). But I will continue that struggle.