Birth of a Series

In November, Andreas Gursky’s photograph, Rhine II, became the first photograph to be sold at auction for over $4 million. This fact showed up all over the photography blogs and Twitter feeds. As a photographer, I am gratified that my art form continues to be recognized and lauded by the art world with big dollars and the accompanying recognition.Rhein_II

But it was the image itself that struck a chord with me. There was something about the way Gursky abstracted nature; the way he created an image of great power within a minimalist framework. The alternating horizontal bands of color and non-color; the texture of the grass, the water, the barely-there clouds.

I started noticing the beauty of horizontal bands in the works of others and found myself intrigued by this composition. It stayed there in the back of my mind, quietly whispering to me, tugging at my thoughts.

The holidays came and went. Winter arrived.

And then the day came when I answered the call. To head away from downtown and urban subjects. To seek out vistas where I could experiment with my own interpretation of Gursky’s composition.

For me, this is the first time a photographic series was created with intention. Where I went out shooting with a specific idea in mind; a tribute to a particular image and artist. One that was completely different from what I normally shoot – in terms of subject and composition. There I was, in my boots, stomping through mud or snow, into fields of shorn corn stalks.

It was so much fun.

So, welcome to my new series “Horizontal Bands”. In tribute to Gursky and his millions.

And in the spirit of my word for 2012: EXPLORE.

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Posted on January 13, 2012, in Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. These are so beautiful, Brenda!! I think there’s something to your new intention. Keep exploring!

    • Kaileen – you don’t know how much I appreciate that you took time from your extremely full schedule to view and comment on my cornfield traipsing adventures. As this was something definitively outside “the norm”, I was a little unsure of putting it out there for the world to see, and therefore, critique. So your comment is doubly special.

  2. A lovely series. My favorite is the second one, just cornfield and sky, but the detail of harvested vs still standing is deeply satisfying.

    I love to shoot photos like these, too. I always have called them layers, like the layers of a cake, but I love your “horizontal bands”.

    • Bo – Oh, I adore the thought of “layer cakes” – such a wonderfully descriptive metaphor for these types of images. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. I love the play of lines in these images. I’m especially drawn to the second and fourth ones. I can imagine how much fun you had exploring something outside of your norm.

    • Kathyrn – yes, it was fun – driving around, searching for open spaces, trying to find a safe place to park. All new challenges, compared to walking the sidewalks of downtown. I’m not sure where this will go next it doesn’t really matter – it was the doing that was the point.

  4. Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Brenda. I too have been drawn to bands such as these. I find your bands (all of them) to be quite rhythmic, not straight and narrow. You are definitely exploring.

    • Kim,
      It’s funny where inspiration can come from, isn’t it? How it can stay inside your head for months before it finally finds expression? No matter what the next step is for this series, I have enjoyed being inspired by a specific image and then going out to intepret it for myself – that was a different process for me.

  5. Holy mother of Wowza. These are fabulous. Did I say fabulous? I mean like super-dooper fabulous with a twist and two thumbs up for good luck. This IS different for you, yet it pulls from what you know; what you DO.
    Please let me know when someone purchases your images for millions, and when they do, give me a little “shout”….you know, drop me in.
    Congratualtions Brenda. I rarely say this because it is a personal thing, but I’d print these and find a place to exhibit. Be proud.
    The first one is my favorite, but they all appeal.

    • Susan – thank you SO much for your enthusastic response to my new series – the whole “two-thumbs-up-Woza” is so very meaningful to me. Each time we put one of our images “out there”, we carry the risk that no one at all will “get it”. To know that you not only “get it” but actually like it – well, what could be better than that?

      And yes, you will be the first to know when I become a millionaire photographer. And when the book comes out of my images 🙂

  6. I’ve been excitedly waiting to see what you’d come up with for your new series, and you don’t disappoint. I am inspired by how you were inspired by someone else’s work, enough to go out and create your own in a similar vein. But these are definitely YOURS! Lovely work, and I’m looking forward to seeing more in the future.

    • Lee – the whole process of being so directly inspired by the work of another was a complete surprise to me. I didn’t see that one coming at all. And since most of my photography comes from the “meander and wander” school of image-making, to go out with the specific intent of shooting certain kinds of shots was also a unique experience. I so appreciate your kind words and continued support for my efforts.

  7. Brilliant, Brenda! This series so so perfect for you! I love, love, love the third one — fabulous B&W! We want to see more — keep exploring!

    • Gina – thanks so much. I wasn’t sure about that third one – whether the guardrail was a good or bad addition to the image. Along with these new images, I have also found myself attracted to black and white – this one just seemed to call out for it.

  8. These shots are beautiful – I love the additional of the horizontal lines in many of them, it really works and makes it your own. I think the first shot is my favourite, but they are all lovely. Great exploring!

    • Becs – thanks so much! It was a little scary to publish this post. Something so different from what I have done before – would others see what I saw? And would I be able to create something that was both a tribute to Gursky and yet, something that was also me? I appreciate that your comment helped me see that maybe I did accomplish that.

  9. These are all stunning, but my favorite is the first one. Cropping and the monochrome treatment allow the power of the towering sky to show itself in a big way. Enjoy your new series…I’m sure the rest of us will too.

    • Wanda – putting something “new” out there is a little bit scary – I am so appreciative of the positive response to my series. That first shot is one of my favorites as well – the extreme crop was an experiment that I think turned out well.

  10. Brenda,

    These are all fabulous in my view. I have a “thing” for farm land because I grew up in Illinois where scenes like these greeted me every day. They each speak to me of fertile soil, farming, the elements, … I could go on and on.

    Very inspiring!

    • Deb – Oh, I like knowing that you see something deeper behind these images; that they are evocative of memories from your past. What more can one ask?

  11. I LOVE your horizontal bands. They are all so beautiful. I think you’ve picked the perfect word & I’m really looking forward to checking out your explorations. I just love the first one!

    • Leanne – you would think I could come up with something more clever than “horizontal bands” for these images but it does the job of describing what they are about, I suppose. I am just so grateful for the positive reaction. And it has been interesting to find that others seek out these kinds of compositions as well.

  12. Brenda! Sorry to have been away. Am catching up and can’t wait to read Wing-Feather Fables. In the meantime, I LOVE your series.
    I can’t even pick a favourite. Each one is visually stunning and compelling and draws me in. There is much to savour in each photograph. And, I love that you were inspired by another photographer, and sought out this series. How inspiring is that! And, what a superb outcome.

    • Juli – no apologies necessary – glad to have you here. This was a unique experience for me – to purposefully go out and seek to create something specific, in tribute to another artist and image. A definite learning experience. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  13. Stunning, just stunning! I just keep going back up and looking at them!! I love the first one in the B&W with layers going all the way to the clouds!! Awesome!! I also love the lines in the last one! Well, I really love them all, they’re fabulous!! I’ll certainly be looking forward to seeing more of this series!!

    • Cathy – thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on my new series. I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be to this experiment of mine – it was so different from what I have done before that I wasn’t sure if I would communicate what I was trying to capture. So I am very grateful for the positive response.

  14. Always so exciting to begin something new!! And – I too – was intrigued by Gursky’s beautiful..minimalist image (and its selling price – of course!!!). Can’t wait to see where your new venture leads…:-)!

    • Marcie – it is exciting! But like with anything new, there have been frustrations as well. I’ve gone out several times since these photos were taken and the “good” shots have been hard to come by. But that’s okay – I’m learning to be satisfied with the search itself.

  15. It is going to be fun to see how these develop Brenda! And I’m so excited to think of you having fun, stomping around in the mud and snow. I like the divergence from your normal subject matter. 🙂

  16. BRENDA, AS ALWAYS YOU INSPIRE ME. YOU WERE MEANT TO BECOME A VERY GIFTED PHOTOGRAPHER. SINCE WE TOOK KAT’S CLASS, IT IS YOUR BLOG THAT I HAVE TRULY FOLLOWED. YOUR TALENT SHOWED UP AT THE VERY BEGINNING AND IT HAS BEEN SUCH A PLEASURE TO SEE IT DEVELOP VERY QUICKLY. TO CHOOSE A SERIES DELIBERATELY AND WITH INTENT IS ACTUALLY QUITE LIBERATING. YOU NOW JUST HAVE TO SEE WITH YOUR EYES WHAT YOU WANT TO EXPRESS. THESE PHOTOS OF NATURE ARE A NATURAL OUTPOURING OF WHAT YOU WERE DOING WITH YOUR MAN MADE EDIFICES. I AM SURROUNDED WITH SCENES LIKE YOU HAVE SHOT, BUT MY EYE WASN’T THERE TO TRULY TRY TO CAPTURE IT….ESPECIALLY THE CORN STUBBLE. YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME TO LOOK A LITTLE DEEPER. I WILL GET OUT THERE “MUD AND ALL” AND CAPTURE MY SURROUNDING AREA BEFORE THE GREEN BREAKS FORTH. I AM ALSO INTENTIONALLY GOING TO WORK ON HONING IN, MACRO IF YOU WISH, TO THE TINY ASPECTS OF LIFE….SUCH FUN. YOU TRULY ARE A MUSE FOR ME. AND I ALSO SO APPRECIATE YOUR FOLLOWING MY SIMPLE BLOGS….SO OUT OF THE AREA OF WHAT YOU ARE MOST INTERESTED IN. IT IS VERY KIND OF YOU. LOVE IT WHEN I SEE BRENDA POP UP. HAVE A GORGEOUS WEEK, STAY DRY, AND CAPTURE MORE VISTAS.
    MUCH JOY. SHARON

  17. I somehow missed to Brenda, and for that, I am truly sorry!
    What a gorgeous series, and I am being ver honest here when I say that I like your second one here more than I like the image that inspired your series. It is really beautiful!

  1. Pingback: Band-ing Together! | Words and photographs

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