Inspiration comes in many ways. I’ve always firmly believed that art inspires art. We have to acknowledge the great artists that came before us for paving the way to where we are today. This gives us the ability to create our own art; to struggle with art; to challenge the norms of art; to give a new meaning to art. Everyone has a different way of interacting with the art. I may not see eye to eye with a certain musical artist or like a certain written prose but that does not make it any less ‘art’. And in turn, me disliking or disagreeing with this art challenges me to be a better artist; to find my ‘art’.
As a cinematographer, my job comes down to visual artistry. Now that’s a vague statement in itself because cinematography consists of understanding a variety of different areas. Technology governs so much of our job now that we must be able to understand complicated concepts with ease in order to apply those technologies offered to us in our films/projects. Yes, the advancements in technology are great, but this shouldn’t distract us from the initial concepts of story. Without story, we have nothing. Without the understanding and respect for story, we lose sight of art. Let technology give you an ease to explore ideas, not muddle and hinder the initial concept. So many times, I’ve seen people lose sight of the intent of the story by being carried away by the equipment available to us. That dolly move may be really “cool” but why is it there? Do you really need a crane shot for this simple entrance? Don’t underestimate the control you have of the image. Subtlety or grandiosity will work; it all goes back to understanding story.
Then again, we also have the tool of interpretation. We all interpret things differently, which is what makes collaboration in our field so beautiful. Not any one of us is alike; we’ve all grown up with our own ideas of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, funny and not funny, etc. We are given a story or a concept to work with. Some may interpret things the same way while others will see things differently. I like when the director and I don’t agree and must have a conversation about certain aspects of the story. Sure, there are plenty of times when conversation gets extremely heated and could go on for hours, but this is a necessary step for collaboration. This is the process of our art. How could we ever achieve excellence if we are never challenged or questioned? Art, especially our field, is not for the weak of heart: we continuously present our ideas to others to be judged, admired, torn down, laughed at, or accepted. The finished product is a reflection of our unique ideas and collaboration.
Our art begins and ends with story. There is a story behind every song, sculpture, costume, film, and painting. They are inspired by our interpretations of the world and the relationship we have with others. This art then becomes inspiration to the many artists to come. Art is an ongoing cycle of creativity which will continue for as long as we stay inspired.