That’s what my adviser, Brett Erickson, called it. I was “pulling a Soloway,” and doing a decent job at it. To anyone who has visited Eddie Soloway’s website, though, these look like accidents. Soloway’s complex abstracts layer light and texture in a way that demands an understanding of photography, motion and light far greater than mine. Which I took as a challenge.
You see, Brett’s J-term course two years ago was a trip to the Santa Fe Photography Workshops, taught by Eddie Soloway. I chose to take an internship at the local fishwrapper, The Hastings Tribune, which I ultimately can’t regret because I also spent the summer working for the Tribune as a photographer and reporter and formed some really good relationships with the editors and staff. At the same time, I didn’t realize what I missed out on, which could be a mark of my education as I’ve explored the work of more photographers and artists. It’s a bit funny that I started out doing fine arts in high school, started on a business route for journalism, and returned to studying fine arts. But I can’t say I don’t enjoy picking out a new book each week on Andrew Wyeth, David Muench, Mark Rothko, Sam Abell, etc.
Anyway, I think a part of me wanted to prove that I can do abstract art photography, although the basis of my education has been in photojournalism and documentary photography. Not that those don’t play into art photography; if you don’t know Nebraska flora, the flowers are purple loosestrife, an invasive species that grows thick and fast in the tallgrass and wet prairie around the Platte. It’s quite a beautiful plant, tall and slim, and literally everywhere.
Though the plant is terribly invasive, it provides good habitat for birds. It’s prickly enough to keep away predators. I ran into a female red-wing blackbird protecting her hatchlings on one outing in a dry riverbed where the loosestrife had colonized on a sandbar. The banks were colonized by Phragmites australis, so there was really no way for me to win photographically. Vicious phragmites. Don’t wear shorts if hiking through it. Your legs will thank you.
And in case you haven’t, check out Soloway’s site for his gallery and stories. He hasn’t updated in a few months, but even rereading some of his posts, I feel inspired to shoot. And there’s no way you can look at his images and not wonder…what time was that shot? for how long? at what f-stop? It’s an equation that will keep me occupied for years, I believe. But for now…there are more storms to shoot.