As a photographer, I look for inspiration. This takes me to the heights of epiphany or the depths of frus- tration. Most times I think I wallow somewhere in between. For me my epiphany as a photographer happened after three years of study with Dick Dischler, my mentor/photographer/teacher.
My project “Where We Walk” began after a walk-about with Dick. During our stroll he stopped to make a few images, explaining to me that he “sees in small things the full landscape of an image.” A short time later I spied a light reflection on the asphalt of an alleyway. I took my first shot and he, always pushing me, called out “work it!” I took several more and during the rest of the walk-about I began focusing on what I saw at my feet and seeing that “full landscape” before taking a shot. Often I had heard those words in Dick’s workshops, but that day it clicked.
It certainly is a privilege to study with Dick. A long-time member of the Ralph Weiss workshops in NYC, he studied with Arthur Leipzig. Dick also was an early member and served on the board of directors of the Jamaican Arts Mobilization ( J.A.M.) group that created Public Studio Project #1, which is now part of the New York Museum of Modern Art.
I joined one of Dick’s early six-month Pre-visualization Workshops at Keeble & Shuchet Photography in Palo Alto, CA, during the summer of 2009. These workshops are similar to the Weiss workshops that Dick attended as a young photographer. The essence of pre-visualization is not just seeing an image and capturing it with a camera, but also visualizing how it will appear once it is processed and printed. I now understand that to be prepared and pre-visualize allows me to “see” and create rhythm in my photographs.
Admittedly, I struggled through workshop assignments in the past trying to grasp Dick’s suggestions as he reviewed my work. Dick spends the time identifying strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. I walked into the reviews feeling worthless about my work and left feeling more so. It wasn’t what he said. It was what I personally perceived about my work. Certainly we are our own worst enemies. This is one of the major lessons I have taken away from my studies with Dick.