With its abstracted, calligraphic marks and organic forms, the best-in-show artwork above might have been made with a sumi-e brush. But close inspection will reveal it’s a photograph, and one marking a new direction for the photographer.
Simplicity, by Bob Friedman, was awarded The Art League Award for Best in Show in this month’s Open Exhibit. The juror, April Wood, described the photo as stark: “That simplicity created a bold composition that had underlying depth,” she wrote in our juror’s dialogue. To learn more, we got in touch with the artist:
What was your goal for Simplicity?
Bob Friedman: The final goal was an abstract. The original photo was of grass in a pond. Using Photoshop, I converted the color image to monochrome.
Is it part of a series?
Not a series yet, but I am thinking about it. Below is a second photo of grass taken at Burke Lake Park.
What inspired this interest in abstraction? What are you getting out of these abstracts?
The arrangement of graphic elements is often more interesting then the reality of the scene. And, the abstracts just simply look good.
Why are you a photographer?
Because I cannot draw a straight line. Seriously, I enjoy taking photos that I have created. It is a fun hobby.
My father was an avid 16mm motion picture photographer. My brother got interested in photography and had a darkroom in our house. When he went off to college I started to use it and really got interested. The upside of the darkroom was the ability to invite girls to see it. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
What is your creative process like? What is your ideal photo shoot?
I wander around looking for interesting subjects to photograph. I will get in my car and wander the countryside just looking for whatever strikes my fancy. Other times, trips to DC and NYC. Also, sometimes I see something on the TV that peaks my interest like when gay marriage was upheld and the White House was lit up in rainbow colors. I made a real quick trip to DC.
What is the gear you always make sure to pack?
I am using a Fuji X-Pro2 mirrorless camera and several lenses depending on where I am going. Tripod is also carried on occasion.
What are your influences as a photographer?
Actually my major influence was Freeman Paterson. Taking a workshop with him in Canada and learning about “visual design” influenced my photography.
I take photos of things that interest me. Whether it is people, an interesting building, a flower or just something that will bring a smile to my face. I would hope that my images will bring a smile to others.
I make images of things I find interesting or things that amuse me. For example, one of my previous projects was “X-Rated DC.” This was inspired by John Ashcroft covering up the Spirit of Justice statue. There are lots of half naked women statues in DC. Another project was “The Day After…” This was an exercise in long exposures, but I leave it to the viewer to interpret the meaning in the viewers mind.
What are you working on now?
I volunteer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Mondays. I have to wait at L’Enfant Plaza for my train to arrive. I just stand there and photograph people that are interesting.