This is a series of posts with translation of my interview published in Russian at http://landscapists.info/vitaly-prokopenko.
I started with reading books by John Shaw. A lot of my photographs at the beginning were attempts to repeat some of his photographs. Repeating is good for studying technique and composition. I was spending a lot of time comparing what I got to his photographs and trying to understand why there was harmony in his, they were capturing attention, they were “singing”, while mine were too static and boring. Decomposing his photos forced me to learn a lot about photography.
While imitating John Shaw’s photographs I did not feel completely satisfied, there was something else I wanted to see in photography. Once browsing books on photography I ran into a book by Freeman Patterson “Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image” and it immediately captured my attention. It was exactly what I was searching for. After that I bought and read all his books.
His photographic esthetics are the closest to my heart. (That’s probably not surprising, giving that I like impressionism in art and improvisation in music.) I don’t want my photography to be limited to documenting events. Photography should reflect what you see and what you feel, not what your camera happened to capture. After all camera does not know what you’re photographing and for sure does not feel anything.
Also big influence for me has been Jay Maisel. Maybe not as much by specific photographs but his individuality, style and being open-minded to all kinds of photography, seeing photographs in everything that surrounds you. Under his influence I don’t want to limit myself just to landscape photography, only color photography or black-and-white. In photography as well as in any other art there cannot be limits – it is always exploration and excitement of finding something new outside a box in which we currently are.
Moving away from photographers who influenced me, I’m just finishing book by Stephen King “On Writing” and it certainly will influence my photographic process and my photography. Most things that he writes about in this book can be applied to photography as well.