CJ Wilkes

About CJ Wilkes Photography

Capturing Your Dance In The Rain is such a thrill and joy to me. Being able to look back on those special times through beautiful artistic imagery makes it a worthwhile challenge.
Learning to Dance in the Rain has been very easy for me. I am drawn to Water & Life! The exciting part for me is to teach you to enjoy your moment in the dance as I capture it from behind my camera.
Looking forward to Capturing Your Dance In The Rain
CJ Wilkes

Tag: ‘Creativity’



Are they Pictures or Stories?

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Something often said to me is – “Your pictures are more than pictures! I can feel the emotion behind them.” Admittedly, that is such a flattering comment. However, I often feel like I am in a rut. Like my work needs to evolve into something more. Why? I am an artist and we are always overly critical of our own selves or striving to be that much better. Sure, I can fall on that – but I think I have since found the answer to my own question. Are my pictures just pretty pictures? Or is there truly something special about them?

Test1

Test2

_DSC6224c

My approach to this has been from an emotional starting point. From a rough childhood to life as I know it now, my view on life has been a positive one, even during the darkest times. I think it was my need for beauty and peace that allowed me to look at life the way I do. In fact, I strive to bring what I see to the world through my work.

One day while looking through images, I ran across the work of Morgana Creely of Image Cinematic
Morgana’s style was nothing like mine, yet I was very drawn to it. So much so that I decided to take her 13 week course to see how her mind works. How are her images so profound in my mind? Along with many other artists. She helped open my mind to a new way of thinking. She thinks in Stories! My big profound moment came while looking at this image of hers:

A glass of pills sitting on a table

Can you believe an Ah-ha moment would come from an image as un complex as this? I looked at it over and over. The image was so simple. But what would the point of such a simple image be to me? That was when I realized that I take pretty pictures. Sure, some have a story but my mindset has always been about bringing the beauty before me forth. Allowing each person who see the work to enjoy in the beauty and peace that was before me. Nothing wrong with that except I yearned to be a Artist capable of telling a story through my work. Maybe stir emotion in someone?!

Goodstory PhotographyRecipe

Morgana hit the nail on the head for me which spun me into a search for some good resources and information that I am bringing to you. Thank you for helping me evolve Morgana!

Now before I move on I would like to bring you the definition of Perception. In art, a piece can evoke different emotions that are as vast as there are colors or numbers.

Perception
noun
1. the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.
2. immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment: an artist of rare perception.
3. the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving; percept.
4. Psychology. a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.

5. Law. the taking into possession of rents, crops, profits, etc.”

An artist plays with a person’s perception. Artist are often attacked on the precept of being irresponsible in their deliverance of their piece. Running a large group of almost 93,000 members and growing, we often run across huge debates brought about by how the process is perceived. For instance, A small boy was near a body of water. The artist had edited the image so the mother standing right behind said boy was not seen. The angle of the shot gave you the illusion that the water was deep and possibly dangerous. The artist was given the third degree, even when he explained that all precautions were made to protect that child.

People often do not see or understand the process that is taken by Professional Photographers and artists. When working with a client we have to take into consideration not only our vision, but the safety of the people we are working with. Many do not see that the processing is one place where we could delete additional people or, in some cases, the image is put together by multiple pieces of photography to come up with a creative image. That last one is ones imagination being pieced together through the use of today’s technology.  Then there are other things such as the angle an image is shot to alter ones view or perception of depth, size, and even lighting perspective.

The Chase

 

Tracy Williams is a Fine Art Photographer and Digital Artist. I am often mesmerized by her work. I am grateful to her for letting me use this image for this blog post about Story Telling. All of her work is, simply put, a great example of story telling. Just like a great Author, Tracy is able to tell her story through her imagery. In this particular piece, my heart beats fast because the light coming from the right of the image (you can tell it comes from the right because it is brighter from that side and fades as it cascades over the boys back) is headed straight for the young boy running away from it. You could say – JUMP! But then you see the water below and the distance from the bridge is higher than the boy is tall. To make matters worse, it is dark! The details are not entirely perfect as it would not be at night time. All the mind want to say is Run boy! Run!All the pieces placed together melted into an entire story in my mind. I want to know what the heck that boy was doing on the bridge in the middle of the night in the first place! I want to know if he made it! I want to know where his mother and father are! Tracy Williams is one I would consider a true artist and master story teller!

 

Book-with-Tree-and-Balloon-Composite
© Mark S. Johnson Photography
www.msjphotography.com

 

Mark is another great artist that is able to bring images together in such a way that is tells a story. What I love about much of his work is the bright happy feel that he paints by his use of brilliant colors. He takes the different pieces, plays with light and color while spinning his story. I could sit all day and stare at this image, but then I want to go pick up a book after seeing this too. His ability to portray that message is definitely that strong. Easy to say that his work holds much of what dreams are made of. That is what story telling is about! Being able to suggest that the story spilled from the pages of the book, then walla! Here it is before you to behold.
Details! Details! Details! Would it have been as strong of an image without the butterfly? Without the balloon? What about the colors? And the light?!I see Mark’s work here and there and I always know it is his. It is filled with fun imagination and happy thoughts. Helping to bring me to a very good place. He also is great at making the impossible seem like the norm, or at least it should be!

 

Girl-with-Fish-Balloon-Composite
Mark S. Johnson is a Photoshop luminary, a longtime contributor to the KelbyOne and Planet Photoshop sites, a member of Dewitt Jones’ Healing Images campaign, and a Trey Ratcliff Flatbooks author. Mark’s site, www.msjphotography.com, is overflowing with enlightening tutorials and limitless inspiration.

 

It is very hard to not feel inspiration from such artist surrounding me. Not everyone finds inspiration at the tips of their fingers. I looked around and realized that inspiration is not always happy. There are stories everywhere you look!

 

1. How are you going to find inspiration in a way that portrays you?
2. How you feel?
3. What you see?
4. Where you have been?

 

I am often awed by John Mitchell, in a very different way. He is quite profound in his way of depicting life. Much of his art is dark in nature. That does not lesson the intensity of his work, because his work is just that! Intense. Thought provoking. Some of my favorite pieces from him include a poem or story, but do not require it, because the subject is deep.

 

AntigonishAntigonish by John Mitchell

 

John’s work uses light in such a way that shadows are lurking everywhere. His poses are menacing, uncomfortable, frightened, or depressing. I also see the blues in many of his pieces. Is the blue to give you a sense of night, cold, unfeeling? It is strange to say this is intriguing, but I am in a state of mind that, if everything was beautiful you could not really understand how beautiful it really is because you would not have anything to compare it to. In life, there are some truly dark and depressing aspects that cannot be ignored. And should it? Maybe it is not for you. Is it possible that it is a cry for help form the artist? Is it a memory? Is it what he pictures as a consequence to some action? Or is it that he is simply looking at life from a different perspective? Either way, there is a story.

 

Imagery can tell so many stories. Babies, Fairies, Rainbows are all so nice – but issues sometimes need to be addressed. Sometimes the way it is addressed is not so obvious and other times it is quite blatant, shocking even. As a survivor of incest an rape, I am a strong advocate for survivors! I have found that some abuses are overlooked though. Sometimes we need someone to bring to light that truth in a shocking manner, in a way that makes you stop and think! This next artist went to the top of my list with this particular series. I am only going to show 2 of the images, but will provide you a link to his work so you can peruse the series in it’s entirety.

 

Weapon of Choice by Richard Johnson of SpectaclePhoto.com

 

Weapon of Choiceby Richard Johnson of SpectaclePhoto.com

 

If you cannot tell by the imagery alone, Words Hurt! We often look at the bruises because what we see is the easy thing to spot, but then we do not always look at the hurtful less obvious situations such as neglect and verbal abuse. The imagery is profound and spot on. When this series was released, I literally cried as I carefully thumbed through each image. It’s affect on my emotions may not be the same for you, but it spoke to many who have seen it. That is the thing about photography though. Not everyone will be affected in the same manner or for the same reason. What I find touching may come across as, touching, annoying, frustrating, spectacular to a handful of others. In story telling, that is how it goes. It is also the reason there are different ratings for movies. If you have 100 people all in one room – not all of them will like the same sort of movie as the others in that room. The same holds true to photos, and art.

 

Here are some different ways to help you find inspiration:
1. Go for a walk in nature
2. Meditate
3. Go to the zoo – Take time to watch the people around you
4. Attend an opera or ballet
5. walk into a costume store
6. Look through abandoned areas (Ghost town, Old industrial, Old section of town)
7. Find some magazines of different genres and read them
8. Have a movie a thon
9. Write in a journal
10. Go take some pictures, practice, play, try

 

Vanille                                                                                                       Jay Kreens Photography

 

Jay Kreen is know for his beautiful pictures of women with flawless skin and the sensuality they exude in just one movement or look.  I love how Jay will use light and aperture to draw a person to look at what he wants you to look at. Her eyes, her body, her setting.
There have been several images of his that really draw me in as quite a story telling type of piece. This particular one  being one of them. There is hardly anything to the story by way of props. What do we have here? The setting, as perceived through my mind, may be a bed with a very plush blanket. To me the plush blanket gives a feeling of comfort and safety. She is not fully dressed, but is not concerned. Is it because she is alone? What is she thinking? Is she dreaming? Is she thinking of the past or future? Is she happy? Is she content?
Story telling does not have to have all the bells and whistles, it just needs enough to tell the story you are trying to share.

 

What are the best ways for you to share your story?
Do you find you are drawn in by color? Or the lack of? Are you drawn in by emotion? Extreme or just whimsical? Do you like to bring contrast to the world? How are you going to do that? Is lighting a factor in the images you like or want to create, or the lack of light? Do you like it all to be in focus or do you want to draw the attention to one focal point? Photography does not begin and end in that moment when you hit the shutter. The possibilities are endless.

 mitova2png                                                                                                            Annie Mitova

The moment I saw Annie Mitova’s work it seemed to draw me into another world. The childhood I only ever dreamed of. The one where there was innocence and happiness. The colors drew me in to the fantasy, the costumes into another era, the textures of the clothing assist with the frilly, romantic feel of the setting. In the image above my first thoughts were of first hints of love and friendship. The connection and reaction the children have with each other both adding to the story being told.

abortweb                                                                                                           Annie Mitova

 

One aspect I have not spoken about much that Annie is great at implementing is movement. In my own work that too has been a favorite to include. She does it flawlessly. In this particular image the setting lets you know that the child is in the middle of a dance. The child’s clothing builds upon that particular belief: her costume looks like a ballerina’s with feathers and tulle (lots of flowing tulle!) The flowing tulle not being fully in focus help with depth of field. The focus on the child’s face along with the lighting makes you feel like she was captured mid movement while recalling her next move…

 mitova1facebook                                                                                                           Annie Mitova

 

Textures are often used in story telling and can be found in the fabric, in the environment, in the way one edits. Being able to combine textures successfully to convey a setting and capture the look desired is essential. I remember as a child, having stories read to me and looking ahead to the images just to see if the image on the next page matched what the story was spelling out.  Often those images would allow my mind to race a head to what may or may not happen in the following pages. Much like the winter scene that Annie Created just here.

 

Subject matter is vital when contemplating the story being told. Is your story telling better achieved with children? Or do you find that your stories are centered primarily around adults? There are those that can set everything up around animals. Maybe humanizing them through the settings they are shot to draw in the very real human aspect to the emotion conveyed? One person who did that so well and built an entire business off the concept was Walt Disney. His ability to think up very human scenarios played out in cartoon by animal characters with human attributes. Another favorite of my own children is Anne Geddes and the worlds she created in her work with babies. Her images captivate many. And although some find her great – others are horrified. She definitely had her own vision which did bring on a spectrum of different emotions. My children and I, however, really enjoy her images and often contemplate what the story must have been to have her build upon it to create such images.

 

This next artist I have the pleasure of introducing you to hit so many keys of emotion in his work for me. The subjects can be from children to adult while the topics he presents range vastly. What is so riveting about his work, in my minds eye, is that the stories are raw, real, and sincere. His work is displayed much like emotions. Emotions range or vary considerably, much like his work.  I love how his lighting, color, and composition, and set detail dance together to create a spectacular piece.

 

abortweb
                                                                                                     Adrian McDonald

 

The first time I viewed this particular image, it caught my breath. Some artist will create what they are inspired to create then are surprised to see the reaction that was provoked by it.  Really, everyone needs to realize that if an artist is able to bring on strong emotions out of people, then they have definitely found the right key. Maybe not the viewer’s desired key, nonetheless a key that raised a certain level of awareness, awe, and thought. My particular story was mine. I only wished my little brother would have had someone rescue him back in the year 2000. Instead, we are now 15 years without my brother here to share our lives together.  I still long to see my little brother’s face and even the man’s face here. I want to look in both their eyes and say “I love you! Can’t that be enough?!” And yes, I am typing this with tears running down my face.

 

That is my story. What story in your life did this image trigger to come to surface?
In my mind and heart, Adrian McDonald is an absolute Master of his craft! He not only makes me bawl like a baby, but as mentioned earlier, he can then make my heart swell with happiness as he did here:

 

bubbleweb                                                                                                         Adrian McDonald

 

The simplicity, the expression, the innocence. As I said, a master of capturing and captivating.
I have often been told that looking at an image alone cannot teach you anything. I have also been told that artists should be willing to spill all their secrets in how they create what they do. Something that is said repeatedly. The part that people are not getting is that these images are all so very telling. Let’s review what you have seen in these images. I will then share what all of these and other artists inspired within me.1- You can decide to either shoot a pretty picture OR take it the extra step and tell a story with it.
2 – You can use more than one way artistically to create your story. You can set up the scenery before you, OR you can piece it together and complete it in post processing.
3 – You can decide if you want to reach a very wide audience by shooting across a spectrum of ages from young to old OR you can hone in on a specific age range, OR even not use people for your story telling.
4 – You can choose to shoot in a Dark Setting OR Light setting.
5 – You can choose to use color to help tell your story (such as Warm or Cool) OR not use color as part of the story process.
6 – You can choose texture and how it plays in your image OR you can choose motion.
7 – You can choose to Shock and Wow OR you can be more subtle in your story telling.
8 – You can go and look for things that interest you, intrigue you, move you OR you can draw on life’s experiences.
9 – You can go about this on your own OR make it a group effort.

 

There has been a turn in my work since thinking all of this through. In my last blog I have addressed this. What I will say about it is that this has turned into a Family Thing. That is what works for me. What works for you? Either way, take time to study the artists around you. Take a moment and look at the ones I have shared with you here. I promise that you can learn by looking. But I also know that many are willing to help and share. Some teach courses, while others will answer questions. Either way, in my mind, their contribution to the world of art is very much appreciated. To see my latest growth from pretty pictures to themed or story telling images please check out that last blog It’s a Family Thing

 

Check back regularly for Introductions to Artists, Tips, and Great images! Thank you
CJ Wilkes (Cindy)

 

                                                                                                         
 

All Images Copyright CJ Wilkes Photography | Blog Theme Created by LJP & SLR Lounge