How did you get started doing this?
When I am at art shows, the most common question I get asked is “how did you get started doing this? Did you discover it by accident?”
Here’s that story.
Back in 2006, I was working at a consulting job in Boston. The hours were long, the work was stressful, and one of my usual ways to restore my sanity—photography—was challenging because I was always at work during daylight hours.
So I started to play with the flower bouquets I had in my basement apartment, late at night. I hate all things involved with lighting and tripods, so to deal with the low light, I started to just move the camera around intentionally. If you try to just hold it still, you get just an awful blurry photo. If you move it intentionally, more interesting shapes emerge that don’t look like mistakes.
My initial attempts left a lot to be desired, but I got better as I practiced more. It was intriguing, as I could never fully predict what I was going to get—each one was a little surprise.
Spring Haze—the one on the bottom right—is the only one from this time that hasn’t been retired from my portfolio. Probably because of the structure of this one, I still adore it and I still offer it up in my collection. You’ll notice it’s also one of the few with a two-word name—she got her name early before I had settled on a one-word naming pattern for my images.
Anyhow, though I was having fun doing this, let’s face it: being outside is better. So, I started to experiment with how to create the right look and feel with this intentional camera movement technique, outdoors. It’s a tricky one to make work (and back in 2007 when I was doing this, I knew of no other people doing this at all. I was just making it all up as I went along).
In the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008, I started playing with this outdoors. And it started to come together.
On one very cold but very lucky day in February 2008, I was on a hike at Walden Pond. And I created more than one image that just… worked. I had figured out how to get the right amount and type of movement, and could do so with different subjects.
The image that really nailed it for me was Enlightenment. I knew when I saw it on the screen of camera… it was really the first outdoor image I created in this style that had me thinking, “ok, this is totally gonna work. This is my thing now.” It lived on my business cards for years, and still has a soft spot in my heart.
So, back in 2008, I fell in love with these images and this style of work and haven’t looked back. I’ve created over 100,000 images in this style in the decade plus since then. And, bonus, I get to leave my tripod at home.
Stay tuned to hear how I started working this style on sunsets over Lake Champlain when I moved to Vermont…