david schrott is everywhere

Re-imagining My Photography

Posted in B&W Photography, Surrealism by thebreakfastdictator on 03/03/2013

black pslms dreamscapes / 2009

In 2002, after a 2 year hiatus, I returned to Drexel University as a photo major. In the two years I took off, I studied theology and worked construction; two very technical disciplines. It should be no surprise then, that the photography I began to churn out as a 21 year old sophomore was highly technical – my focus was perfect, my composition was rigid, my prints were pored over in the darkroom for 8-12 hours at a time. I won the sophomore book award as the best in my class while only attending one trimester. In the summer session and fall trimester of that same year, we switched from using 4×5 cameras to the square formatted Hasselblad – an even more formal photographic discipline! My photos became even more rigid, technical and sharp. I was obsessed with perfect exposure – so much that I’d bracket my film so obsessively that I’d only get 2-3 frames of the same exact image per roll of film (I wasted a lot of film! A lot can be done to make up a mistake in exposure in the darkroom). When I accidentally broke my focusing screen and my images were slightly soft, I wouldn’t even look at those rolls of film or prints anymore. Everything that initially made me good at photography eventually became my biggest obstacle – I couldn’t let go enough to let a picture succeed on its own.

The irony of these early images that I made about ten years ago was that they were surrealist in nature – dreamlike. Yet I tried to force a formalism on them that was antithetical to my surrealist aspirations. The more formal the pictures became, the less surreal — and the less impactful.

Above, you can see a black and white image I made just about this time four years ago. I began working on a project I called the pslms – partly in reference to my Smashing Pumpkins obsession and partly in reference to the Hebrew Scriptures and the darkness that surrounds so much of King David’s life. My orignal edits of the photographs were much different from the above image. I was working digitally, but still obsessed over sharpness and technical perfection. I couldn’t shift and tilt a 4×5 anymore and I had no desire for an image to look that way anyways. The original edit of the above image looked like this. I still like that edit. It may be more “successful” as an image. But it doesn’t say what I want it to say, whereas the above image does.

In some ways, that’s the beauty of shooting digitally (though it’s not my preference). I can come back to a file four years later and re-imagine what it may look like through a new lens – a new view of life (the last 4 years have been quite a ride for me!) that actually begins to say something rather than simply exist formally.

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One Response

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  1. kilted1 said, on 05/15/2013 at 6:41 am

    1st class .Love it.


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