Photographic inspiration often comes from items not generally thought beautiful. See how one photographer created a stunning collection of photos centered entirely on machines.
A tractor, a sewer grate, a box of nails, rust accumulating on just about anything: These are typically not the things that come to mind when you think about photographic inspiration. However, if you’re a photographer, you know that texture in just about anything can generate a response to your work. The items listed above are the subjects from some of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken. They were unlikely subjects that, with the right attention, revealed their beauty to me and (hopefully) through me.
The February issue of Popular Photography magazine featured an article titled “Good Machines” that treated readers to the work of photographer Ian Gittler. This New York City-based photographer and visual artist produced a lovely series of images of different machines and machine parts (seen in the image). His first inspiration came from a collection of engines and distribution manifolds from the early 19th century, and his work shows the beauty he finds in every machine. The images are bold, geometric and gritty in all the right ways.
What I loved about this article was not only the beautiful black and white images displayed, but the knowledge of how the photographer produced and edited those images. The reader also learns that Gittler printed his photos for a gallery show on his home printer. I’m not quite sure why that last bit of information brought me the most joy. Yet, I think it was because I tend to believe there’s some element missing from what I’m creating keeping me from calling it true art.
Gittler’s work disproves that theory, though. He didn’t wait until he had the perfect weather or the perfect backdrop or the ideal model to create his photo. He responded to something that inspired him. Then, he edited that photo and printed it on his home printer. This reminded me that there are rarely as many obstacles to the creation of art as we often convince ourselves actually exist, and the ones that are there have often been erected in our own minds.