Using Fine Art To Tell Visual Stories
I believe that there are stories worth telling. While my journey began as a way to communicate to my family and loved ones, it grew into something bigger. I began to reflect on broader topics that are universal like the distractions we all face today or the relationships between people.
Art That’s New Yet Familiar
Drawing inspiration from the great artists that went before me, I incorporate great ideas into every element of my single capture narratives, into the sets I build down to the smallest of details. Just like music can be the soft way to penetrate the heart, great art touches us on the deepest of levels. Discover the genesis of this project and the watershed moments in my life that took me in new directions with my photography.
From our earliest days as little children, we all love a good story.
I’d like to share the stories that have touched my heart.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, with my head full of ideas.
The first thing I do is look around, and I grab my pen and paper. I keep it right by the bed, and I start sketching.
I love and get so much joy from watching concepts in my mind become reality.
Everything we’ve ever done started out as a thought.
So when I build a new set, I spend hours searching, thinking, and looking for just the right authentic props and wardrobe.
Sometimes I find things that have little flaws in them, maybe overlooked by others.
All of us need and deserve a 2nd chance now and then.
40 plus years as a photographer has really challenged my ability to capture in a single click something new, yet familiar that provides a feeling.
My camera is simply an extension of me. I like to use it to love on others and have influence in their lives and capture memories for them to bring those feelings back.
We all face challenges to pass on a legacy to those we love dearly, only if they catch our vision will we succeed.
Drawing Inspiration From Great Masters
Here is an example of a portrait inspired by the work of Caravaggio. Notice the source of light coming from the top right of the frame and the use of a window on the back wall. The placement of the subjects was handled in such a way that they overlap but are clearly identifiable. There is a story told in the interaction, gestures and propping elements within the painting.
Using a similar lighting pattern and direction of light, I built this set for a fine art group portrait. There is almost the same light source coming from the window and the same feeling of tight pools of light. Cinema today is heavily influenced by his lighting style. When I did my sketch, the first thing I considered is the placement of each individual, working out the triangles for good composition as the eye flowed through the picture.
Realizing that my daughters were transitioning from their youthfulness to young women, I wanted to create a signature portrait of the three of them together. It was something I had never done for my family. Of course, I had taken many photos of them throughout their lives, but nothing that I felt was reasonably artistic. My daughter, Sara’s, upcoming wedding thus presented the perfect opportunity! Inspired by their love for Jane Austen, I purchased some parasols and related accents that were easy to take on the plane to England. My hope and indeed my heart hoped that my gift of a photograph would become an enduring image in their lives and illustrate for them and other what life was like as “Sisters.”
There was a growing realization stirring inside of me, however, that I had never fully explored the Masters I had first encountered during my Art History studies in college. Little did I know, that this seemingly simple journey would transition into an arduous quest! A week after returning to the States, I suffered a stroke, and that served as a significant marker in my own life.
The recovery process was both complicated and newly invigorating. Not only did I have to relearn my skills and techniques as a photographer; I also had to rediscover my voice and learn simple skills like speaking. What I did retain, however, is the knowledge of what is possible and can be accomplished. What I lost was knowing how to do it.
My priorities naturally shifted to focus even more closely on my family, specifically, my children and grandchildren as I embraced my second chance in life. I created each image in this panel with them in mind. They are the stories I want to tell them, the values I want to impart to them and my tributes to the Masters connected with them.
Completely unforeseen was that the original photograph of the Sisters became even more important to our family when my daughter Elayne passed away. That Spring, I sketched out a concept for her daughter, Tyler, to honor her mother and communicate a message of ongoing security. She doesn’t have to look out the window anymore because her family loves her and is now forever ever-present in her life.
The arrival of my granddaughter, Holland, created new memories for our family and started for me (?) a natural exploration and examination of the Dutch masters. Then came Grace, my granddaughter, who lives in Rome. Knowing her father takes her to look at paintings on Saturday mornings further inspired me to turn my attention directly on the Italian masters.
These studies became instrumental in my finding my new voice. Being able to express myself visually helps me overcome my new limitations. I’ve found it exciting to challenge myself, create from the heart and continue to learn and grow as an Artist. Simple activities, such as seeing how many people I can art direct in a single capture to setting self-imposed time limits for executing different variations of a concept, have made seeing my paper sketches of scenes and lighting coming to life a true joy.
Throughout this process, I’ve broadened my vision, deepened my understanding of the creative process and rediscovered my skills. Using the camera, I realize I’m leaving a visual legacy to future generations of my family whom I so dearly love.
When one is having a picture made, often their usual boundaries are down. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a photographer. Their expectations are open, as there’s not a lot of power associated with being a photographer – so I can just come in close sweetly under the radar.
Because these personal defenses come down, we can share their joys and also their struggles. I don’t always know what to say, but I enjoy being able to love them. Mostly, I get to listen. What could be better than loving people who are going through the same struggles that I share in these images, similar struggles to what everyone potentially is going to experience in life?
I believe cameras are simply my excuse to be around people, to be in other people’s lives and love them.
We all should love one another and know that we are all important and valued. Each person for me has dignity, strength, and a unique voice. The most precious item in the world is not possessions – it’s each other.
A Son’s Perspective
“As an artist who truly appreciates the work of the Old Masters, it is refreshing to see an artist as talented as David and watch him recreate in today’s world, the beauty of the art that is before us! Thank you, David, for helping to keep the vision of a most classical time of art front and center in the portrait world of today!”