Rauschenberg's work was my first huge influence, and he remains one of my biggest inspirations. Shooting elements for mixed media work got me using the camera on a regular basis, resulting in a deeper investigation of photography in its own right.
Rauschenberg's straight photography is overshadowed by his mixed media work and is rarely shown, but is very strong, fresh, and experimental. This shot is from his early years, in Rome in 1952 with Cy Twombly, who is another big painting influence.
Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly in Venice, 1952. The work of your influences seeps into your subconscious and its inspiration is made manifest in your own work when the moment is right.
Similar to Rauschenberg's image of himself and Cy Twombly in Rome, this picture's element layering is all in camera, shooting through a plate glass window to merge the inside scene with reflections from the outside environment.
Diebenkorn ranks with Rauschenberg as my two strongest influences in painting, and lessons learned from studying his compositional style are readily apparent in my work, especially the landscapes.
One of my landscapes with a composition directly inspired by Diebenkorn.
Cornell's collages and boxes were another big early influence to my dimensional work, and the way he used strong and simple photographic images, specifically portraits, spurred further investigation into the artists whose work influenced him.
Mann's seminal book Immediate Family was a big influence as my work was evolving towards straight photography in grad school, and I began a similar candid portraiture project focused on my son that would become my thesis work.
This is an early portrait of my son, directly inspired by Sally Mann's Immediate Family.
Another environmental portrait of my son inspired by Sally Mann.
I saw the opening show of Avedon's In the American West at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas in 1985, and the huge prints made such a dramatic presentation, more similar to the scale of painting than how most photographic work had been shown before that time. I met the subject of this iconic 1981 photograph, "Ronald Fischer, Beekeeper", selling honey at the Oak Park, IL farmer's market in 2004 and he was instantly recognizable.
This straightforward environmental portrait of singer-songwriter Phil Lee is directly frontal and confrontational in a similar way to Avedon, excepting the fact that I did not adopt the use of his signature white backdrop.
This image by Arbus combines many of my interests, including street photography, candid portraiture, and work with children... where you never know what they're going to give you. This exposure was mid-roll as you can see from the contact sheet in the book of her work, notes, out-takes and journal entries: Revelations. No other exposure depicted any similarly bizarre gesture. You have to be ready... think Cartier Bresson's "decisive moment".
Like in Arbus's image of the boy with the toy hand grenade, this photo was not staged. I was fortunate enough to be prepared when this gift of a moment was presented to me.
Blossfeldt was neither a photographer nor a botanist, but was a sculptor and art professor who made pictures as reference for his students. The plant studies he made are marvels of form and structure, and taught me how powerful straightforward images can be without an over aestheticized approach.
One of my images from the ongoing Flora series. Like Blossfeldt with his studies of natural design and form, I don't find pictures of fading or dead plants and flowers to be macabre in the least. I see beauty in all stages of life.
Another image from my Flora series.
Davidson's work, including images such as this powerful portrait from his documentary classic, East 100th Street, stands as an example of what documentary projects can be, depicting the poor inhabitants of one block in New York over a two year period with honesty, elegance, and dignity, and was only possible through his familiarity with the subjects due to his dogged persistence and determination. Also, I was blown away by the subtlety of tone in an original silver print of this photograph viewed at Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. This small jpeg does not begin to do it justice.
One of my portraits in a similar style to Davidson... subject directly and confidently confronting the camera with soft, natural light and a minimal depth of field.