Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspiration and Encouragement

"Duangchan and Family Planting Rice"
Often we are not aware or at least most likely to not fully appreciate the influence that we have upon others.  We go about our lives doing what pleases us or perhaps doing what we believe is expected of us.  Most likely our power and ability to inspire and to encourage others is not a factor especially in our day to day relationships with people outside of our immediate family and close circle of friends.  However we have the ability to influence people far removed from our intimate circle of people.

We can influence others in sharing our knowledge, our experiences, our opinions, offering feedback and by our actions.

I have been toying around but not entirely focused on developing a photo exposition of some of my work.  I have gotten to the point where I had decided upon a central theme; "Bent At The Waist, A Photography Exhibit of Lao Loum Rice Cultivation in Isaan", selected the photographs, developed a book specific to the exposition, and purchased 15 of the planned 18 mounted prints to be exhibited.  I had researched and developed a framing scheme for the selected works but I had held off purchasing the mats and frames.

"Duangchan and Family Planting Rice"

"Isaan Pas de Deux"
As part of developing the photography exposition I had posted a couple of the selected photos on the website for grading and critiques in the "Documentary" category.  A couple people indicated that they would be interested in seeing black and white versions of the submitted photographs.

Some people consider that documentary photography must only be in Black and White.  I consider my work to be documentary style photography in that my goal is to capture a real and true moment at a specific time; sort of like "If you had been there then, this what you could or should have seen".  As such, there is very little posing, imposed direction, or post process manipulation in my photographs.  However I do prefer to work in color for no other reason than the fact that color, to me, more accurately and more completely captures the specific moment.

I took the comments of the other photographers seriously and resubmitted the photographs in Black and White versions.  Surprisingly to me, the B&W versions of the photographs received about a 10% higher rating than the original color submittals.  I find the predisposition of people to prefer B&W for documentary photography interesting but not sufficient for me to alter my style.  However the book for my planned photography exposition will have Black and White versions of the selected photographs for the "purists".

Yesterday, almost one month after submitting a B&W version, I was inspired and encouraged by a person well outside of my family and friends.  My inspiration and motivation came from a person that I had never met, spoken to, or written to.  I was only familiar with his work from the photography website that I participate in,

Jon Peri is a prolific photographer based in Paris who specializes in portraits and nudes.  I have become very familiar with his work through and greatly admire his photographs.  It is not that I want my photographs to look like his but that I appreciate the beauty, style, and the quality of his work.   His style is very distinctive which is a trait, which I believe, that every true artist strives for.

John took the time to critique the B&W version of  "Duangchan and Family Planting Rice" - "An expressive work, very well composed. The shadows reinforce the image well and I like your choice of black and white also, bravo."

I have received encouragement from family and friends in the past regarding my photography but in the case of family and friends, you never are comfortable with the motivation behind the praise and encouragement.  The perception that there is a need to protect or shield a person from disappointment often leads to false or at least slanted evaluations.  This is not to say that praise and encouragement from family and friends is not appreciated or welcomed.  It is just that often the basis and credibility of their feedback can be suspect.

Receiving feedback from a stranger may not be always as palatable as that from an acquaintance but it is more likely to be more honest.

Receiving positive feedback from a person who is a professional with a great deal of experience is also inspiring and encouraging.

I am now motivated to proceed with developing the photography exposition "Bent At The Waist, A Photography Exhibit of Lao Loum Rice Cultivation in Isaan" and bring it to a conclusion.  Now that I have shared this plan should also help to keep me motivated.

We all have knowledge, experience, and opens that if honestly shared can provide inspiration as well as encouragement.

Lately I have been dealing a great deal with the Veterans Administration, "VA", regarding medical benefits for my father.  I had read so many horror stories about the VA facilities and VA treatment of people that I was shocked at what we actually experienced.  The VA facilities that my Dad and I visit in New London and New Haven are first rate.  The VA people could not be any better - they are helpful, polite, competent, and seem to genuinely carry for their clients. So far we have not had to wait a minute beyond our appointment time to see a VA doctor.  The VA is telling my Dad all the things such as eyeglasses and hearing aid that he can get through them and they follow up on arranging for him to receive them.   I am extremely impressed and I have only one regret - I do not qualify for VA medical care.  My Dad and I make it a point to always let the VA people know how much we appreciate their work and what a good job that they are doing.

It is important to provide positive feedback to those around us.  It is just as important as negative feedback or complaining.

Positive feedback encourages good behaviors and reinforces our expectations of others.

Positive feedback can be inspiring as well as encouraging; a gift that costs nothing.

Positive feedback is another way that we have influence over those around us; influence to make a better environment for everyone.


  1. Allen, do you use Lightroom? There is a very nice tool in Lightroom to change colour into a kind of Duotone BW. It works well for some subjects, especially nudes. But in case og your pictures in this show, I believ the colour is an intergrated part of this documentary. The green of the seedlings, the garish colours of the clothes, the blue of the sky are parts of the reality of the scene. Maybe for me it is the difeence between an 'aestetic Art picture, where the form is more important, vs the documentary, where the content is of prime importance. Some subjects for documentary, color is not esential, for me this subkect, it is. YMMV

  2. Thanks Kees - I am in agreement with you - the exposition will be in color. I do not have Lightroom. I use Photoshop Elements 7. Thanks for the feedback.