Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Finding Your Inspiration

published in the South Shore Breaker - June 29, 2016
We live in such a beautiful part of Nova Scotia, Canada, and even the world, that it's difficult to understand sometimes why a photographer or artist might run out of inspiration. But it does happen. Sometimes we just get stuck creatively. I have a bulletin board beside my desk that is filled with cards and photographs, things to help feed my artistic soul. Some are just doodles I have done, some are some inspirational photos I've put together, but most are cards and photos from other artists who inspire me.

One of the cards is an image of a tree and birds in flight (two of my favourite things to photograph), a creation called "January Morning" by photographic artist Kas Stone (the card is shown in the above photograph of the newspaper article). Kas is a local photographer who has a studio in Dublin Shore, and she's also a member of the Bridgewater Photo Club, so I can get a fix of her beautiful images quite often.

Kas earns a living by selling her images and conducting photography courses at the NSCC and workshops at her studio, so those are pretty obvious motivations for her to get out and take photographs. She does have to pay the rent and put food on the table! But I got to wondering what inspires someone who inspires me.  

Kas gets her inspiration from other photographers, as well as printmakers, potters, musicians, writers, and other artists focusing on landscape and the environment. Aside from beautiful scenery, Nova Scotia is blessed with many, many talented and creative artists. Take a look around. Visit galleries, and your local library and museums. Join a club of like minded people. Inspiration is everywhere.

We may sometimes take the beauty around us for granted. But one thing that Kas has discovered over her years photographing landscapes is that she makes her very best photographs close to home in landscapes that she is intimately familiar with. She prefers locations that she can experience repeatedly in all seasons and weather, high and low tide. She doesn't consider it a hardship to go out with her camera in storms, fog or snow. In fact she finds her best images usually come from these so-called ‘bad’ conditions.

I mentioned that Kas is a photographic artist. To most people the word photographer suggests someone who takes pictures of real things and places. But Kas agrees with whoever it was who said that "reality is highly overrated", so she uses techniques that transform her photographs into more artistic works, sometimes straying a long way from the original reality that was captured by her camera. Her hope is always to evoke memories and emotions which will connect with people who share her love of our beautiful natural spaces. 

Today I'm sharing two images that are special to Kas. The first image is "Breakers" and was taken in February 2014 at Little Harbour in Lunenburg County, the day after a fierce midwinter storm and just 3 months after she moved home to Nova Scotia from Ontario. She was thrilled to be back on the Atlantic coast, so it seemed appropriate that she celebrated Valentine's Day by slithering around the seaweed with her camera at the edge of the ocean. This is a favourite spot for her to go for pictures of waves during a gale, because at low tide it reveals a group of jagged rocks.
Breakers by Kas Stone (kasstone.ca)
The second image is called "Above and Beyond" and was taken in early April this year at the Rissers Beach boardwalk. It has deep meaning for Kas because Rissers Beach holds a special place in her heart. It was her home base during her scouting trips while she was researching her move back to Nova Scotia. It's just a five minute drive from where she now lives, so she walks the beach-boardwalk loop almost every evening to clear the cobwebs after a day's work. Being able to go there so often gives her the opportunity to explore the same location with her camera in various conditions. This image is an example of how inclement weather can transform a familiar place into an unfamiliar one and make it more interesting for photographs. In this case, fog obscured the usual background and made the scene mysterious with the yellow winter grasses more saturated.
Above and Beyond by Kas Stone (kasstone.ca)
Since Kas earns a living doing something she also loves to do as a hobby, she sometimes finds it challenging to achieve a balance between the artistic and the business parts of her business. She usually interprets a scene in different ways, the more realistic images that tourists prefer, and the more creative interpretations that typically appeal to other artists and that she finds personally rewarding.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from this when we're out with our own cameras. When you see something that inspires you to take a photograph, take a look around and try to create several different images from the same scene. Learning about other artists
can be inspiration for us to focus on in our own photographic journeys.
 

3 comments:

Westcote Bell Pottery said...

Kas Stone is a wonderful addition to the South Shore arts community and everyone should take the time to visit her studio this summer.

Sherry said...

Wonderful article, you captured the essence of Kas very well. Clearly your talents lie beyond photography! I also encourage people to visit Kas's studio and buy some or her work. Art is the best thing to invest your money into it will speak to you every time you look at it and there is nothing more peaceful than to surround yourself in things you find beautiful.

sybil said...

Kas is lucky to get this marvellous "plug" from you. Really like her waves in February image.