My first office didn’t have a computer on the desk.
The key piece of kit Art Director’s needed to operate in those days was a pen.
The people who were best at drawing were generally the best at Art Directing.
It probably seems like a weird coincidence now; what has drawing go to do with Art Directing?
It wasn’t the drawing.
Because they could draw they ended up in art colleges, the better they could draw the longer they got to hang around.
The longer they hung around the more they’d be forced to learn about composition, colour and proportion, the more people they’d have to listen to people wang on about underlying ideas and the hidden meanings in the compositions.
It probably sounds like hell?
But after having this stuff beaten into you it’s impossible for it not to come out in your work.
Take the photographer Andreas Feininger.
Like most great photographers he has a link to Art, his was through his dad, Lyonel, the expressionist painter.
But the biggest influence on his photos was the stuff that was beaten into him at college: Architecture.
He studied it at the Bauhaus.
Whilst there he got into photography, he got so into it that when he left he had two jobs; Architect and Photographer.
He later moved to Paris to work in Le Corbusier’s studio.
In 1939, when war broke out, he fled to New York, working for the U.S. Office of War Information.
The reason I go through all that background guff is that you can see his background in his images.
They aren’t human, they’re clinical.
He’s not trying to capture emotion or a fleeting moment, he’s documenting and organising.
Whether he shot nature, machinery or anything in between, it’s if the elements have been arranged on one of those weird architects desks.
With a sharp scalpel and ruler.
“Experience has shown that the more fascinating the subject, the less observant the photographer.”
“Photographers — idiots, of which there are so many — say, “Oh, if only I had a Nikon or a Leica, I could make great photographs.” That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life.”
“The first impression of a new subject is not necessary the best. Seen from a different angle or under different condition it might look even better. Always study a three – dimensional subject with one eye closed.”
“Every successful photograph, except for lucky shots, begins with an idea and a plan. The more precisely a photographer knows what it is he wishes to do, the better the chances are that he will do it.”
“What matters is not what you photograph, but why and how you photograph it. Even the most controversial subject, if depicted by a sensitive photographer with honesty, sympathy, and understanding, can be transformed into an emotionally rewarding experience.”
N.B. Here’s a great documentary about Feininger.