the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

THE COLORS OF DREAMS

Stock Image, Columbia Masterworks Library. I will never know the name of the photographer who shaped me with this image.

I will never know the name of the stock photographer at Columbia Records who shaped me with this image. But I know his genius. 

By MICHAEL PERKINS

ONE OF THE TRICKIER PARTS OF BEING MY AGE is that I have been carrying around certain creative influences inside my skull for so many consecutive decades that their origins often blur. Who said it? Where did I brush up against that angle, that idea? Where did I see it? Book? Movie? Conversation? Who brought me into contact with this treasure?  Inspiring mentor? Loving teacher? Teaching lover?

Of course, it can be argued that what you walked through the door to discover matters more than the door itself.

Maybe. But for me, the door and the room it leads to are two halves of one whole.

For most of my life, I have been fascinated by the intentional “un-realing” of color, the hypnotic spell of hues that weren’t “that way in nature”, but, through interpretation, could add drama and impact, even magic to the final version of an image. About a week ago, I was reminded of one important reason why I feel that way.

Researching composer Bedrich Smetana’s gorgeous musical love poem to his homeland, The Moldau, I set eyes on an image that I had not seen for over forty years; the cover photograph for a recording of Moldau by George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra that I purchased in the 1970’s. My own copy of the original LP is long gone, but I still own a reissue of the performance, music that afforded my teenage self a serenity, a dream quality, a magic that travels within me to this day. In true “multi-media” fashion, I never listened to the original album without its cover within clear sight, its blue-green image of a soft-focus lake and forest quieting my nerves, inducing the music’s spell again and again.

One one level I knew that the colors in the photograph were not “natural” in the strictest sense, but they were nonetheless hypnotic. Through them, I saw Smetana’s homeland, its villagers, its folks rituals, and the beautiful river Vlatava. For me, the picture was the music, and the music was the picture. Energy flowed seamlessly from one conception of beauty to the other.

The Lake, Central Park West, NYC. 1/80 sec., f/5.6, ISO 160, 50mm.

The Lake, Central Park West, NYC., 2011. 1/80 sec., f/5.6, ISO 160, 50mm.

Some of my own work, naturally, strives for this quality, the ability of a photograph to unchain the mind, to allow feelings to flow, to allow color to be abstracted, just like language or music. Some will call it influence, others imitation. I prefer to think of it as respect. And while I will never know the name of the stock photographer whose image was probably slapped onto The Moldau’s album cover as a clerical afterthought, I love it when I see his work leak through my fingers, if only a little.

Shade your dreams however you like.

And let the music surrender its colors.

Follow Michael Perkins on Twitter @MPnormaleye.

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2 responses

  1. Hi, Cool post. I’ll be your regular visitor.

    October 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    • You are so welcome! Let us know what you’re thinking as well. Thank you very much!

      October 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

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