Greek Island Abstracts

Feb 27, 2013

Doug_Ness_DSC_0007_(5)-2081-2699In June of 2008 I went to Greece to participate in the Greek Island Photography Workshop, led by Glenn Steiner. Up to that point, I’d been taking some basic photography classes and taking a lot of really bad pictures. Going to Greece combined two great interests of mine: a love of travel and a desire to learn more about photography.

Glenn was a great teacher, was fun to be around, and has been going to the Greek Islands for many years. When not leading workshops, he’s a commercial photographer in the Bay Area. Glenn was a great influence on me early in my life in photography. He taught us about light and what times of day would be best for photographing certain subjects. He told us to walk very, very slowly , to look up and look down, and to turn around after taking a picture, that sometimes an even better picture would be where you hadn’t looked yet. He told us about “f8 and be there”, that we should think of the camera as an extension of ones arm, to always be ready to make a photograph. What I learned from him was really a new way of thinking about making pictures and, of paramount importance, a new way of seeing.

What I began to see, towards the end of the workshop, were the forms created by architectural exteriors combined with sky, shadow, and various qualities of light. The end result of these photographs tended toward the abstract. I’m not sure why my eye was attracted to these compositions; it may have been my love of abstract expressionist paintings. But something about them felt different than the pictures that I’d been taking before. It was the first time I found my own “voice” in photography. The experience gave me a much needed boost in confidence in what I was doing and in the path I was taking.

I also made some good friends during my time there. Besides Glenn and his wife Rose, I remain in contact with Rosanne Bruegmann, Del Krebs, and Karina Wang. Karina, a professional photographer in Chicago, has been especially encouraging and supportive of my efforts in photography over the past few years. Now that I no longer live in Chicago, I miss our times together discussing photography, art, and music, usually over a glass of wine.

Some of the images below have been in exhibitions, some have even won awards, and others have never made it off my hard drive before.

One of the ultimate lessons I learned in Greece is that it’s one thing to learn how to use a camera, it’s quite another, and infinitely more important, to learn how to see. Thanks, Glenn.