Friday, 31 October 2014

I'm a Weaver and I Went to a Photography Seminar!

Last weekend, Pat and I drove down to Burnaby for the annual seminar hosted by the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club. The speaker for the day was Frans Lanting from California. To call this incredible man a "nature photographer" is only part of what he shares with the world. Frans Lanting has a personal mission to present the environment vividly to his viewers, and to make us see differently, think differently and act differently about our world.

So what's in a photography seminar for a weaver? Lots.

With a husband who is a keen and very good photographer (and photography teacher), I'm becoming a little indoctrinated in the art of photography and seen the many connections with weaving. Seeing, composing, finishing - photographers and weavers proceed through these and other related steps. Photographers may see an image before them whereas weavers first can only see the cloth in their mind. But photographers and weavers both compose, produce and finish carefully, involving many technical steps along the way.

As well as those obvious (to me) overlaps, even some of the photographic discussions and critiques start my mind racing. One photographer's dud photo could be this weaver's major inspiration.

Some of Frans Lanting's key points that I could really relate to included:
  1. Art is starting with nothing and making something, or it is starting with too much and having to remove and reduce.
    One of my key faults in cloth design is trying to do too much. I would take a complex weave structure, add a complex colour regime, flip the colour sequence around across the width - too much.
    Simplify, and the beauty will stand out.
  2. Pause, think about what interests you, analyze a bit, then compose.
    This is not only relevant to photographers, but true for me as a weaver. I have some ideas still incubating for over a year. Other ideas need far less time or can even be acted on quite spontaneously.
  3. Look for your favourite colour combinations.
    I have mine, and I use them as often as possible in my work. What gets me is how versatile and essential some apparently unexciting colours may be - a Prussian blue, my Tuscan gold standby, a favourite verdant green that springs with life. Yarn dyelots may vary though, and perfect consistency from one yarn order to the next can never be guaranteed.
  4. Dig down into one topic or location rather than traveling all over and trying to photograph everything.
    I dig down into weaving blankets :-) and my colours are earthy, natural combinations or I go a bit wild now and then, such as in my Energy series.
Frans Lanting is a very skilled and engaging speaker, and a really outstanding individual. Pat and I knew he'd done his seminar many times before, but it felt new to us as audience members and not recycled from past presentations. Check out Frans' website if you want some major inspiration.

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