Photographs That Changed Me #3

Paul Strand, St. Francis and Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

This is part 3 of a series of posts about a selection of photographs that influenced my perspective of photography, or simply inspired me.

This photograph summarizes much of what is great about Paul Strand’s work in New Mexico.  After viewing Strand’s negatives of New Mexico Ansel Adams was moved to dedicate himself to photography as a means of artistic self-expression.

Strand’s time in New Mexico was turbulent.  His relationship with Stieglitz and his wife Rebecca was disintegrating.  Strand has trusted Stieglitz.  That trust was blown apart after he found that he had been manipulated and Stieglitz was using Rebecca not only against him but even against O’Keeffe.

Strand’s New Mexico work is a result of hard work and inspiration.  He had makeshift darkrooms and worked in rather crude circumstances.  While staying at Mabel Dodge’s home on the edge of Taos, from the homes lookout, he would watch clouds and storms develop and then time how long it would take to get to various sites where he wanted to photograph.  The above photograph is obviously a result of that exercise.

Strand’s work has always been an inspiration.  Many of our trips to New Mexico included photographing at various sites where Strand made pictures.  This was an incredible and inspirational learning experience that shaped my seeing and appreciation of the use of light in the camera to make photographs.  I also began to look past the obvious documentary type of photograph to make more expressive work.

Below is a photograph, Gateway to Truchas, New Mexico, that I made as a result of Strand’s inspiration.

Gateway to Truchas

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