I became a photographer out of inspiration — a vision that I could put together something entirely new with my hands and eyes and mind. I was ready, possibly impatient, to create solely for my own expression and accomplishment, after a career of working for others' goals.
I began drawing and painting fairly early, a natural activity in an extended family, with some amateur and at least one professional artist and dabblers in art or collecting. The family thread was not about collecting art especially, although that is and was involved, but about "doing" art. To me, art depicts our society of the moment, warts and beauty both, and photography is a micro millisecond of life-turned-art. In my own photography-as-art, I strive for that ideal.
My initial foray into photography was nature images, which I still enjoy doing. Extreme patience (not a natural trait of mine) and telephoto lenses helped me to produce from my own back yard uncommon views of common birds and other animals. I like to reveal the rich variety of their personalities across the seasons. My travels, however, helped me discover a previously unrealized part of my own nature, which seeks to learn about people in other societies. I realized that my own society is only a tiny slice of the world, and we have a lot to learn from and about other cultures and peoples. I am an observer of people, in their daily contexts and elements, mostly without intruding on their awareness or activity. I believe that my photography of everyday people demonstrates, through my eyes, my feeling for them, their surroundings and their daily lives. Your eyes may or may not see things the way I do, but that is what photography is all about. It gives each of us a different perspective on others.
As our group site, PhotoVisions3* mentions, I have studied digital processing with Eliot Cohen. I have not, however, had a course of study in photography itself. Perhaps this gives my images a fresh appearance or even a rustic character; perhaps they are simply more personal. I feel that I have been fortunate as a photographer. I have had some shows, won some awards, some examples being best of show, first, second and third prizes at the Waterford Foundation competitions in Waterford, Virginia, as well as juried invitational entry of images into and best of show at Strathmore Hall Arts Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I also have had some images accepted in an exchange program abroad and had an image chosen to appear in Shutterbug magazine.
Please come back whenever you can.
V. Michael Straus