Itâ€™s not often that we have the time to slow down, and really immerse ourselves in a good article, book, or magazine. When the opportunity affords itself, weâ€™re often looking far and wide for a good read thatâ€™s worth the time. Whether that can be found on the bookshelves in the studio, the stack of magazines on our desk, or queued up in an RSS feed on the web, the sheer amountÂ information is plentiful out there â€“ itâ€™s just a matter of filtering out the junk. Lucky for you, we have a new monthly series on the blog that cuts through the crap and shares inspiration and information that we find especially valuable. Consider it required reading.
I’ll be honest. It’s not every day that I have the time to sit down with an art or photography book and leisurely leaf through the pages, admiring the mastery of the artist. When I do, it’s honestly refreshing to spend time with such great work. Since there isn’t much reading to be done here, I also suppose that the title of this blog post might be changed to “required looking” – but bear with me here, viewing and learning about the work of Edward Hopper should be required for any photographer.
Aside from his most famous painting, Nighthawks (which is also one of the most recognizable paintings in American history), Hopper’s career spanned more than four decades in which he painted dozens of incredibly beautiful, quiet, and evocative pieces of art.
As a realist painter, the parallels to photography are prominent. Hopper creates a unique sense of mood and feeling through the interaction of his subjects in their environment; a technique that any environmental portrait photographer must master by guiding their own photo subjects to interact with and feel comfortable in their environment. His use of light and shadow within the environment also helps to create mood in his work, while simultaneously guiding the viewer’s eye throughout the painting; the technique is subtle but present in almost all of his work.
Much in the same way that we create portraits that express and reveal Chris’s perception and distillation of the world around him, Hopper painted his personal vision of American Life. Many of his paintings offer the viewer a look into the moment just before the action, begging the question “what will happen next?” and extending the narrative beyond the canvas.
Even a cursory look at Hopper’s work can show a great deal of overlap with modern environmental portraiture – both in our work and the other top photographers shooting out there today. If you’re unfamiliar with his paintings, set aside a few moments and take a look. Trust us, it’s time well spent.