I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to title myself an ‘Accidental Artist.’ Growing up I loved woodworking and fixing cars, and my architecture classes. While at University I spent the better part of my early 20s studying to be a doctor. I truly believed I was destined to use my mechanical-mind, to solve problems or fix things.
In my fourth year of school, I took a b&w photography class to fulfill my art requirement my first assignment was tilted, ‘Photograph Anything You Want.’ I was almost 26 years old, and for the first time in my life I picked up a camera with the intent of creating. I set out with a 4×5 rail camera, 4 sheets of film and not a single idea of what I wanted to photograph. I remember that afternoon fairly well, It was spent driving around looking at things to photograph, and not so much photographing. As the day was quickly coming to an end, I had to make a decision, take a photo now, or turn in a late assignment, now being the student that I was, the latter was out of the question. I pulled into the boat harbor up the road from where I was living, got my camera out, composed, metered and shot, hoping I fulfilled the assignment.
The following week I believed what I was handing in was a photo of three lamp posts in the snow. I followed all the rules, at least as I had read in my textbook, I developed it properly, and my darkroom print had all of the elements that were expected of me. When it was time to review my print, my fellow students used words like ‘solitude’ and ‘sad’ to explain my photo, one student even said it looked like a still frame from the movie, The Shining. This was not the response I expected, I thought we were going to talk about how I made the photo, instead it brought to my attention a whole new set of questions I never asked and desperately wanted to solve.’ Up until this moment I had been asking and studying how things work, rarely asking why. I knew how I made the photograph, but I did not know why? This question has in the best possible way, consumed my thought process.
Now six years into my journey as a photographer, my approach is still very systematic, the way I view the world is still very Mechanical, I see the elements of design, balance and symmetry, lines and colors and composition, only now I understand that all the of elements do in fact evoke emotion. I never set out to be an artist, it happened by accident.
Tavis Johnson is a film photographer based in Utah. He is flying over especially to join us at the upcoming Farm Week where he will teach a limited number of students how to create art with a film camera. He has a couple of spots left on this masterclass which will take the mystery out of shooting film and the workflow involved. He will inspire you to create unique images and you have the chance to shoot on the day. It will be more than amazing. To book your place, follow the link here.