Like just about anyone who’s pursued a creative endeavor for many years, I constantly acquire new influences. Some -although rare these days, are monumental, while others, who’s sway may never seem apparent, have shown me new ways of seeing. Or, as I like to say, looking.
If I had to include every person with a camera that influenced me, this would be a colossally long blog post, so I’ll try to keep it to the most obvious, and biggest influences.
There are two types of electric blues guitarists: Those that have been influenced by B.B. King, and those that have been influenced by B.B. King, but don’t know it.
Same goes for Robert Frank. He’s the B.B. King of street/documentary photography. His raw and gritty, ‘damn the rules’ idea of shooting forever changed the way we look at that style of imagery. Like King, he made it all seem ridiculously easy -until one tried for one’s self -and were left wondering what it is that we’re missing.
One of the first to use colour for street photography -and boy, did he ever use it effectively. Most street photographers -myself included- prefer B&W, as it aids in forcing the viewers eye onto the subject, But Fred’s composition skills, and choice of subject matter were so strong, he could happily shoot away with his beloved Kodachrome.
A truly unique way of seeing.
Many years ago, when I first stumbled upon MacEachern’s work, I thought my head was about to explode. He had taken a whole pile of shots of my hometown, Saint John NB, in the early/mid ’60s around the time I was living there, as a little kid. I seriously thought I was going to come across an image of myself in one of them.
Viewing his images was hugely inspirational in a sense that you could find beauty, and even art in any environment. You just have to know how to look.
The rules don’t matter. What is photography? What is art?
The first time I saw Billingham’s photography was in Artforum magazine back in the early ’90s. Images he had taken of his family titled ‘Ray’s a Laugh,’ was featured.
Here was a guy who didn’t seem to give a shit about technique, equipment, or even the whole ethos about what ‘quality’ was supposed to be. In fact, I strongly suspected (and still do) that he was, not so secretly, giving a big middle finger to the art/photography world.
Emotion. Feeling. That’s all that matters. Everything else is noise…
An absolute master of light and shadows. What you don’t say in your images, be it shadows, or negative space, can be just as important as what you say.
Mullins brings a street photographer’s mindset to wedding photography. He’s mastered Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’, and applies it to traditional wedding photography -especially with his eye for candids. He also fantastic at documentary, and people photography, conjuring beauty from seemingly mundane scenes.
Not a photographer. Artist, friend, mentor. The most knowledgeable person about art, art history, art theory I’ve ever known.
MY FATHER, MERLE TOOLE
Arguably, the greatest influence of all. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.
My dad was a professional photographer his entire life. I don’t take picture like he did. At all. He influenced me with his patience, his laid back manner, and his casual approach. He taught me that taking my time pays off.