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Q&A With Yogi Photographer David Kosar

Take Me Out to the Ballgame by David Kosar

In what looks like a case of The Wave gone wrong, these Nats fans are twisted into a baseball tornado — a “maelstrom,” as exhibit juror Jennifer Lindsay put it. Lindsay chose Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the Oerth Kirstein Award, and we asked photographer (and yoga teacher) David Kosar to tell us more about it.

Who won, the Nats or the Pirates?
Exciting game. The Nats won 6-0. My boy Bryce Harper homered, his 23rd for the season, and Max Scherzer pitched a no-hitter and an almost perfect game.

How was shooting that day?
Shooting was fantastic, especially since it was a fast game. Fun shooting the crowd and documenting many of the high points. The fan who won fan of the game, a contest at each Nats game, was in our section; and Teddy won the Presidents race, surprising everyone, so the curse may be gone now (it’s bad luck when Teddy wins).

Take Me Out to the Ballgame (detail)
Take Me Out to the Ballgame (detail)

What was your goal with this photograph?
Just to get accepted in the show; nothing more. Hit a dry spell there for awhile. I’m always elated just getting a photograph accepted, and glad to see the Art League jurors are beginning to view photography more favorably and including more in shows. Photography is still viewed as the redheaded stepchild and not perceived as an art by quite a substantial number of people in the art world, including jurors.

What gave you the idea to edit it this way? What’s your process typically like, from shooting to editing and printing?
Interestingly, I already had my two pieces selected, printed, and getting ready to frame on submission day. Then for some reason, call it kismet, divine providence, the universe, or yoga (yep, I teach yoga), something told me to think further about the theme “Gatherings” and look at some crowd shots.

“Photography is illusory. What you observe and sense in a photograph really isn’t there.”

I pulled two shots from the Nats game, liked the one that was ultimately selected the best (mainly because there is lots of red in it — my favorite color), and started playing with different ideas, filters, etc. When I finished with the basic idea, I knew this was the piece to be submitted, and eliminated one of the two originals. It took about three hours to finish the final image (there is some painstaking editing in one area of the image). Had a feeling that it was going to get into the show, but little did I know it would get the award; furthest thing from my mind.

I’m sure you’re probably chuckling at the yoga reference. What does yoga have to do with photography? This may surprise you, but it is part of my process. Shooting and editing are very spiritual in the broad sense of that definition. When you are focused, consciously aware, and in the moment, you realize that’s all that exists, and the clarity that comes is phenomenal. Yoga has a large influence on my photography work, as it does on my life.

I’ve been told that my style of photography is abstract. As a rule, in my typical process, I do my abstract work with the camera and not in editing. That’s the real challenge, and to me, the sign of a true photographer: using the camera to get the desired effect and not the computer.

Variegated by David Kosar, from the June 2014 exhibit “Neo-Expressionism”

 

Take Me Out to the Ballgame is obviously one of the exceptions to my rule. This image just lent itself to do something different, fun, artistic, and push the boundary between photography and art. The editing that I generally do on photos are the basics: cropping, color balances, contrast if needed, etc.; similar to what we used to do in the darkroom. Cropping is very key to many of the abstracts I do. Once I achieve the desired effect in the original image, many times I look for a very small, interesting area in the image, then crop and enlarge just that section. The results are amazing and very abstract.

What’s your favorite thing to take pictures of?
Funny, I get asked that all the time. I don’t have a favorite thing to shoot, which surprises most people. I just love taking pictures; always have, and don’t limited myself to a favorite or specific thing. Art is all around us. It’s everywhere, if your mind is open. From the simplest things to the most horrific, it can be art.

You should see some of the trash on streets that I’ve shot and what the final image looks like. It’s up to the creative mind to see that and transform it into a photograph and art. As you can tell, I very much consider photography art.

Why are you a photographer? What keeps you coming back?
I’m a photographer because of the love and joy it brings me. A day without photography is a day without sunshine. And in all candor, it’s fun, and it’s in my blood. Life is supposed to be fun.

Orbs by David Kosar, from the March 2014 exhibit “ColorField”

 

Photography is illusory. What you observe and sense in a photograph really isn’t there (the secret about photography that isn’t discussed). The emotional responses, perceptions, and interpretations you may have to a particular photograph are solely the results of your life experiences, regardless of the photographer’s creativity or intent. It is this illusion that makes creating and viewing photographs enjoyable, exciting, and fun. And one the reasons I keeping shooting.

In the past 10 years, my style has evolved into what it is today, far from my original roots in photography, which was primarily photojournalism as it’s called today (back in the day it was just news photography). What I do today with photography, I pretty much do for myself. I got my first camera, a Kodak Brownie, from Santa Claus when I was eight years old (1962) and have been taking pictures ever since.

A 1962 Brownie Fiesta.

 

Apparently, Santa heard that I was always tinkering with my dad’s camera, just taking strange black and white pictures in the house without a flash, and even taking the camera apart and ruining his film. It took my parents awhile to figure out that it was me doing that and not my older brother. My passion grew as writer/editor and photographer in high school when I was on the newspaper and yearbook staffs (general and sports photographer); college newspapers and television station (two degrees in journalism); reporter and photographer at my hometown newspaper; and as a political newsletter writer/editor/photographer for a national trade association where I was the director of state legislative affairs (state lobbyist). At one college I attended, I was on the newspaper staff, hung out with the photographers, who took me under their wings and taught me a lot of what I know. They were my first mentors and gave me my formal training.

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