Join Steve Simon for an in-depth discussion in this video Looking at the work of David duChemin, part of Photo Critique of the Week.
- [Instructor] I think that having a passion project can elevate your work in a way that nothing else can. Hi, I'm Steve Simon, the passionate photographer, and welcome to a new edition of Photo Critique of the Week. This week we're going to look at the work of David duChemin who has sort of gone in a different direction with his work and I wanted to show it to you. So David has gone, has taken his cameras under water for the first time at least in a serious prolonged way.
I asked him to send me a paragraph on the work and I'll let him sort of tell you in his own words. I'll read you from that paragraph as we scroll through some of the imagery. My underwater work began when two specific aspects of my life collided. The first was an accident in Italy six years ago when I shattered both my feet forever altering what I was capable of physically. Scuba diving becomes a means of exploration that didn't rely on my feet and so I began taking my cameras underwater.
At the same time, as a humanitarian photographer, my concerns for the earth in general and for the oceans specifically began to grow. If our habitat goes, so do we and so much of the poverty I've photographed comes from environmental devastation. I want to be part of the conversation and since humans only protect what they understand and care about, I think part of telling these stories and being one of the voice affecting change means being ultimately connected to the beings with whom we share this planet.
I want my images to tell a story, but most of all to evoke emotions, provoke curiosity, and leverage empathy. My choice of black and white is in part to unify work done in water where different colors but also because color can be so seductive. We often focus more on the beautiful blue water, or the jade of cold northern waters in this case, than on the subject of the moment itself.
Well, David is a very eloquent guy when it comes to describing his work but you know the images really do most of the talking. And I think for me, one of the first things I noticed was the power of underwater photography in black and white. I think it's very very effective. I'm used to seeing a lot of underwater photography in color and I think by divorcing the color from the content of underwater, you know gives these images a kind of surreal, unworldly kind of effect.
It definitely draws attention to the subjects in a way that the realism of the color sometimes, as David described, can seduce you in a slightly different direction. So the pictures really have to hold up in terms of the composition and you know the subjects that they contain and of course some of them are stronger than others but the beauty of this work is, even though these images were all shot in one particular area, you can see there's just such a diversity of different kinds of images and you know it doesn't feel repetitive in any way.
I think ultimately, you know, when the project is done, you'll have to figure out a way to deal with images that might be similar and here is one example. I think that in this particular case, you've got three very strong images of the same subject matter and if you were to choose one, it may be a difficult choice. That's fine though because we as photographers have to make these difficult choices to make the work stronger. But sometimes by doing a diptych or a triptych in this case, that might be a better way to sort of describe this particular scene and make the sum greater than any of the parts on their own.
So in essence, this becomes one image, and it's just really kind of beautiful. They're all very graceful including the scuba diver in this image along with the fish in the picture. So I think that's the power of the work comes out of the idea that you're very passionate about a particular subject. You actually start the shoot and you realize, wow, this is yielding amazing visuals and I think that's the bottom line. As much as you want to sort of talk about a subject or promote awareness about a subject or add your voice to the conversation, the voice is going to come from the photographs.
Of course the words can help deepen the understanding of the viewer to the work and exactly what it represents and what you're looking at, but it's the pictures that count the most. And I think overall this is such a strong body of work that I'm glad David shared it with us and it inspires me. It gets me thinking in different directions. I haven't done underwater photography. I don't know if I would do underwater photography, but I like the idea of what he's doing here, the diversity of the images and the fact that they're in black and white.
So there you go. That's another episode of Photo Critique of the Week coming to an end. I hope you'll join me in the next episode where we'll critique a whole new set of images.
Check back each week to watch as more critiques are added, covering new work from many different genres. This series is designed to help you discover how to improve your work as a photographer. By heightening your awareness through analysis, you can harness the information to enhance your photographic eye.
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