Introductions – Leanne Cole
Yes, it is about me today. For a few of reasons really, and I hope you don’t think I am being too egocentric here. The first reason was that some of the people I have introduced have spoken about how hard it can be to answer the questions, so I thought perhaps I should have a go. The second reason, well, I’ve been a bit slack and hadn’t organised myself and had no one, so you got me. The third reason was because recently when I showed all the photos of Melbourne and then the river, a lovely friend wanted to know where some of the other images were, but I told her I considered them my art images, so today I thought we could look back on all my art images.
I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my earlier attempts at what I call art images, and some of the things I’ve experimented with over the last couple of years.
So the first question I always send to people is why do they take photos. It is a hard question, and there are so many answers. So why do I? I think it is something I have to do, not necessarily taking photos, but making images. It is something I have always felt a need to do. As a child I drew, and drew. I had no one to help me, so I copied things and tried to learn that way. My school had no art teacher, so I was on my own. As I got older I realised that I could go and learn, and I did that.
I got my first SLR just over 20 years ago, and I started making images that way. However, over time I got frustrated with film and the limitations. I couldn’t get rid of things from images, I didn’t like the dark room, so I couldn’t add the drama that I wanted. I thought what I needed was to concentrate on drawing, painting, create my own images.
I did study photography for a year at NMIT, then started a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, (VCA). I did printmaking there, but through that process I learned how to observe, and as a friend said recently, spent 3 years learning what makes a good composition.
Then about 4 years ago I got my first DSLR, and well, I haven’t looked back. Along with that and Photoshop, I was finally able to start doing more things to my images. It is all about the image, and what I want you to see. So that is why I take photos.
I have been trying so many different things over the last couple of years, and some things I still do, some I’ve toned down, and some I don’t do at all any more. I like the way the blurring can make you focus where I want, but I was a bit heavy handed with it in the beginning.
Inspiration comes from so many places. It can be a hard question to answer. I know there are some things that really did/do have an influence. One is Chernobyl and the nuclear disaster that happened there, not so much the disaster but the town of Pripyat. It has been deserted since 1986, and it is amazing what happens as humans leave. I like to explore that theme of abandon in my work. I can’t get there myself at this, so I have to make do with what is around me. I think I said recently how I like to make a place that isn’t abandoned, look as though it is. Abandonment is a big theme for me.
I also find theatre, movies, TV a great source of inspiration, I like drama and I like adding drama to my images. I try to get that as much as possible. Some movies are very inspirational, and I watch them over and over. Artists that I love are usually always those that get some sense of drama into their images as well.
Photographing the now and making it look more unique is also different, the idea that I am in control of the image. One of the best pieces of advice that one teacher gave me once was, “it is your image, do what you please”.
The other question I ask is about process and how they work. It is an interesting question, we all work differently. I tend to take lots of photos. I am constantly thinking about how I can photograph something that is different to other people. I try all angles, and I will go back and photograph the same place over and over again, until I get what I am looking for, or I get bored. I also take lots of images, it is nothing for me to come home after shooting for the day with around 500 images. Now before you gasp at that, if you do, I also bracket my shots, so every time I am taking a photo, I am also taking either taking 3 or 5 bracketed images. I never know what I will do with the images until I get them on the computer, so I like to be prepared.
Experimentation is key and I’m always trying new things out. Some things work, some don’t, but you have to try and that is how we learn. I will like some things, and then that might lead to something else. I love learning new techniques, so experimentation is key to that.
I don’t have a lot of gear, but I am very happy with what I have. I am sure you all know I am now using the Nikon D800. All my lenses are Nikon, and I have spent a lot of money over the last couple of years on top lenses to take images with. I have lenses from 14mm to 200mm. They are 3 lenses and they are all 2.8, so fast lenses. The glass is phenomenal and I love the images I get with them. I love my kit and on my wish list are only two more lenses, and that will be enough. I would like the 105mm Micro lens, and a 35mm prime lens. I hope my husband isn’t reading this.
So I am going to put my images in a gallery for you now. These are what I refer to as my art images. They have all had hours of work on them, and I have tried to make them a lot more than a straight image from the camera. I hope they make you feel something else, not necessarily a good feeling, but you know what I mean. I usually put a link to the persons website or blog here, but might just give you one to my website. Thank you for letting me indulge myself here.