Peter Lik, Ansel Adams, Ken Duncan: On the Shoulders of Giants ...


Article March 09, 2013

No photographer is an island... Even my great inspirations like Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell and Peter Lik looked to creative awakenings. And out of these inspirations came style, tone and approach that uniquely defines each individual's path. This is a short list of photographers whose talent, whether photographic or not, led me into the crazy world of photography.

Ansel Adams - as early as I can remember, similar to Peter Lik, Ansel Adams' high contrast black and white images just captivated me. Of course, I am mostly a color photographer... So why did Ansel Adams have such an impact on me? Photographers like Peter Lik and Ken Duncan are ablaze with color, and color is what lights me up. But Ansel Adams style had punch and primal appearance - classic framing. It had extremes of light and dark, a play on contrast that my eye searches for in a great photograph. These were among some of the first images that conveyed tone and feeling for me. A photograph became transcendental.

Galen Rowell - growing up, I remember certain images that I just loved. And for many people, especially with art and photography, you are introduced through the work visually. Galen Rowell is one of the photographer's whose work I knew years before I really started to personally identify the artists. "Wow, all these images I thought were wonderful came from the same guy"!, I remember thinking. I love discovering this way. Its organic discovery. Galen's compositional style and in-field processing were foundational to me because he used as much technique in the field with lenses, filters and equipment as he could. This was just before post-processing and computers started to play an increasing role in photography. He was much less post-processing and more in-field capture. Today's photographers, such as Peter Lik and Michael Frye, rely increasing more on new levels of contemporary post-processing control. A Photograph became definitive.

Peter Lik - By the time I stumbled into one of Peter Lik's galleries, I had already been a photographer for years. In fact, I was on a photography trip at the time. Peter Lik's photograph's were solidly beautiful, but his other talents commanded that I take notice. Presentation, size, post-process and bold product style took this genre of photographic art and made it super-cool. At the time, I thought a three foot photograph was big - now it was tiny and weak! Peter Lik was also the first artist that I had seen create a face mounted acrylic print, which was a fairly new type of artwork print in the USA at the time. I outstretched my arms in front of a large artwork in his gallery and exclaimed, "Thank you for taking landscape photography to new level!" I turned around and discarded my cameras and support equipment, fired my pro-lab in Arizona and blew up my processing computer in favor of better (but I did keep my old shoes) and became an artist, not just a photographer, in control of my entire creative effort and process. A photograph became a tangible product of beauty and possibility. Another amazing accomplishment about Peter Lik's photographs, one actually sold for $100,000,000, and recently, setting a new record: Peter Lik photo "Phantom" sells for 6.5 million dollars.

Ken Duncan - Some of the very first panoramic shots that I ever took serious notice of was those created by Ken Duncan. I do believe this is where I first, long ago, decided that pano images were the most normal, common sense orientation for viewing. And although Peter Lik gets alot of attention for his panoramic photographs, Ken Duncan was already years deep in pano-portfolios. He also had a keen eye for strong subject matter that can be difficult for many panoramic photographer's to master. I always paid attention to his imagery. A photograph became a Panoramic Image.

Clark Little - Just a down to earth real guy but with some of the craziest, amazing and exciting photographs I have seen lately. Truly inspirational shots of Hawaii's water works... Clark Little seems to sneak up on and literally catch mother nature playing in the universe. His practical and down to earth approach to having fun with photography is divine. Clark Little's work certain speaks for itself. A photograph became rediscovered and exciting.

Peter Lik, Ansel Adams, Ken Duncan are the photographers I picked out that I feel had a big impact on me as far as nature or landscape photography. The list of photographers that have long inspired me goes much further and deeper than nature - fashion, physique and fitness were also among some of my first photographic foundations. Sounds like a story for another time and article....