Photographer as Poet

When people learn that I am a professional photographer, it is not unusual for them to ask me next what kind of photographer I am. The answer is trickier than it might seem. According to Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, there is no such thing anymore as a professional photographer (because everyone has a DSLR). If you are primarily a wedding photographer you have a specialty (although it is less lucrative than it used to be). It’s possible to specialize in landscape and nature photography, but not too many photographers make a good living from it.

Peonies mon amour (with inken) © Harold Davis

Peonies (with inken) on washi © Harold Davis

But what about me?

I like to say that I am a “Photographer as Poet.” I photograph what I am interested in, and I figure out a way to market my work after I’ve made it. “What I am interested in” could mean just about anything or anyone. Photography is just the first step in my image making.

My images are more like poems than short stories—they have an internal cadence and structure.

I feel strongly enough about this “Photographer as Poet” thing that I’ve had a Japanese inken made for me (it’s a stamp, like a Chinese chop) that says “Photographer as Poet.” Here it is:

Harold Davis - Poet as Photographer

My inken is used as a decorative element and signature on some of the prints that I make.

Which brings me back to what I do. One of my collectors put it this way (and I think it rings true): I am an artist using techniques including digital painting, with digital photos my as my raw material (pun intended). The results usually don’t look like traditional photography. I like to use new technologies to refer to art of the past, and to mix-and-match genres. One example is the botanical image of peonies above, printed on a high-end inkjet printer on Awagami washi.

This could almost be traditional art, but it is not quite, of course. Nor is it so self-referential as to be coy. I want my poems to be enjoyable on their own, without any comprehension of the complex traditions that relate to their making, and without any need to notice the genres I’ve mixed and the conventions I’ve bent or broken in the process of creation and composition.

Related story: Rose after Delauney and O’Keeffe.

This entry was posted in Flowers, Writing.

2 Comments

  1. Ron Paris March 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Harold,
    I have seen all sorts of debate over the use of a ‘watermark’ on an image. Perhaps if some had taken the care and time you have to produce such a beautiful way of signing your artwork, there would not be that debate.

    I think it adds something very special to the image above.
    Ron

  2. Harold Davis March 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Thanks Ron!!!

2 Trackbacks

  1. By French Gardens in Sepia on March 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    […] again, as I observed in Photographer as Poet, these images are creative anachronisms that combine a classic aesthetic with modern technique and […]

  2. By Falling Rose Petals – New Print Edition on June 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    […] printed on Awagami Unryu washi, generously sized on 12″ X 17″ paper. Each print has my Photographer as Poet stamp hand-applied in archival ink on the lower left, and is signed on the face of the print in […]

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