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Member Spotlight: Ørdeal

 

Member Spotlight - Ørdeal


[ June 22, 2009 ]  

What lead you to photography and photo-illustration?
I've been a photographer for over 20 years, and have been doing photo-illustration for about five years. I'm not really sure where it came from. I just had the desire to do something creative, and I thought that a camera was a tool with which I could be artistic. I didn't think I could be artistic with a paint brush or musical instrument - with drawing, painting and music, I think it's either in you or it isn't. Photography was something I thought could learn.

Tell us about your photo-illustration work...
I try to create something that doesn't look like a photograph, using photography. One of the key things with my photo-illustration - one of my "rules" - is that it all has to be created with photography. Although I use photographic elements, I try to make the photo-illustrations look like they are drawn or painted. I also try to make sure that all the elements in the image are images I've shot myself. And another thing you'll find with my imagery is that it's very symmetrical, balanced, and oftentimes mirrored. I'm not sure why - for me it just feels like it's something that needs to happen.

I wished I could be a painter - it would be wonderful to be able to paint something out of an idea in my head. However, doing photo-illustration I think I've finally become the painter I always wanted to be.

How do you know when a photo-illustration is done?
When I do a photo-illustration for myself, I typically have no idea what is going to happen at the start. I don't pre-plan. I take an image of a subject and add in the first texture, which tells me where it's going. About half-way through, it starts to take a given direction. At some point, it feels done - the image tells you when it's done. It's a much different process if the project is assigned - in those situations you usually have a set of parameters you need to work within. Usually not as much freedom, but it's satisfying in a different way.

With personal work I often challenge myself by taking the same base image and see where else I can go with it. I have a number of images like that on my site www.ordeal.ca

Who or what are your biggest influences?
Philip Dixon was the first person to influence me photographically. My favourite three photographers are Philip Dixon, Eugenio Recuenco and Javier Vallhonrat. I admire their work, their style, everything about them. Recuenco is the first photographer in 10 years whose work completely blew me away.

Nowadays, I'm much more influenced by illustrators, painters, visual artists, art, music, film, and architecture - especially in my photo-illustration. Another influence is sci-fi and comic books - I don't really read them, but I'm influenced by the artwork.

What are your unique talents?
I am probably best known for my lighting skills. For me, lighting is one of the most important elements of photography. I've shot on everything from 35mm, digital, film, medium format and large format - and lighting is always key. Some photographers know how to set up the lights, take a reading and take a shot. But you also need to know how to use lighting to make a photo interesting and compelling ,With lighting, you can create a mood or a certain vibe.

There are a lot of different things you can do with lighting that can change the photo, and many different approaches. When I'm on a movie set, it's fascinating to see how they're lighting a shot. I buy American Cinematographer just to learn more about lighting. Even if you're working with natural or available light, you still should be making some kind of decision on the lighting.

Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers or photo-illustrators?
When I teach, one of the things I tell my students is you need to look at the work of others. It tells you where you're at and where you can go. Try to surround yourself with art and photography as much as you can. You'll see how someone does something, which may influence and change your working method - it helps you grow. I'm constantly looking at art galleries, books, magazines, films, and listening to music. What works best for me is experiencing as many different kinds of art as possible.

Although when you're looking at someone's work you really like, you have to resist the temptation to just copy it - rather you take what you like about it and incorporating it with what you're already doing and improving your own work. When I look at drawings or paintings, I'm influenced in an indirect way, because I can't do that brush technique, for example. That's why I look at paintings and other art - there's much more I can get from it. Many times, the inspiration you get is the inspiration to be creative and create a new piece of work. It gets you thinking creatively, gets you started on a new project, gets the ball rolling. Just looking at it, taking it all in - you never know where it will manifest and where an idea will pop up.

Tell us something no one knows about you or your work...
I'm the kind of photographer who has no problem sharing how I do things. If someone wants to know how to do something and I know how - I'll tell them. Because I don't believe in keeping so-called "secrets." I know if I share a technique or method with someone, they will come up with something different, because they are a different person. What I do, anyone can do. But my stuff looks the way it does because the steps "I" take make it come out a certain way. I always like to help other artists and welcome any questions from Altpick readers!



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