Influence. Inspiration. The muse of fire. I've spent the last week or so thinking about what events have influenced the person I have become. What inspires me to grow as a person. What muses guide me when writing, photographing or being generally creative. It's difficult to pull apart and analyse all the different threads that are tangled in each outcome. It's a bit like a dream. The secret is to pull out the major themes and biggest subjects. Track them back to their base state.
One of the biggest influences to my photography has been Zed Nelson. Specifically his book Gun Nation. I remember the first time I leafed through it. That palpable smack as I recognised his story in the images. You can read the lives of people through the way he photographs them. And you feel the crushing weight of an entire nation pressed against your eyeballs. His photography is very different to my own - in part through necessity as I am unable to get out to chronicle lives. But I hope that I am able to inject life and stories into the things I am able to photograph. The narrative of emotion.
Perhaps of an even bigger influence in terms of my final images has been the website flickr. I have been a member of the site twice. Especially during my most recent membership I have been able to pull together a contact list which has challenged and moved on my work. I am inspired, influenced and moved by a hundred different muses every day. And again, it is the story of their lives and the way that they write them down without words that really gets to the heart of me. It's the stories. Always the stories.
So tracking it back through another theme, there's my great love of The Classics. Deserving of both the capitals. Homer, Virgil, Propertius, Catullus, Sappho, Ovid - the list could go on. I discovered them years ago. Indeed, I recently rediscovered a children's poetry book which I grew up with. And hidden away in the McGough and Lear were poems by Catullus and Sappho. Catullus! In a book of children's poetry! And what poem had they chosen? 85.
odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
I hate and love. Why do I do this, you ask me?
I can't tell you. I just feel it happening and am wracked.
Definitely influential, that duality, and something I've tried to photograph time and again. Of course, I've failed. The day I get close to mirroring Catullus may well be the day my camera implodes. But still...something to aim for.
Moving forward from childhood experience of Catullus, but back from my degree, there's one man (apart from my father) who had a huge influence on the person I am today, although I don't imagine he'd realise this. When I think back to it, Nick introduced me to some of the foundation stones of my enthusiasm for and love of narrative. It was Nick who gave me my copy of Neuromancer. He told me about Twin Peaks and David Lynch. He lent me a copy of Jean de Florette. He gave me his copy of Lord of the Rings. It was down to him, in a rather indirect way, that I first watched Alien. He even copied all his Beatles albums onto cassette to give me as a Christmas present. He inspired me to branch out and be brave with films, music and literature. And to be proud and confident in that bredth of taste and appreciation.
Last night I found out that Nick co-writes a film blog. I can't tell you how happy I was to be able to read through it. I suggest you do too. You never know what inspiration you might find.