Chapter – TO THE MOST ARTISTIC CAT I KNOW AND TO ALL VISUAL ARTISTS | 2021 Wild Stories Ep 5 | BIG CATS |
This is for the most artistic cat I know and for every visual artist out there, but before we get there, a little digress, (Right at the beginning of the story, I know, I know!) I promise it will be worth it.
I think we can all agree that modern technology has made it extremely easy for people to capture moments, which is a good thing because I have also benefited from it as I didn’t come into the game in the more difficult times of film. Can you imagine taking an image in Maasai Mara and not knowing how it turned out until you travel back home, located a studio, develop the negatives to finally realize you should have used a higher ISO setting? Right now I can only associate it with the excruciating pain of waiting to get your Covid test back 😬😬. However fantastic the benefits of technology has brought to our art, I feel its diluted the Photography Profession to what we, the modern-day photographers on the streets have come to be told that what we do is “just taking a picture”. We have all forgotten how powerful this art form is. We have forgotten the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” and the reason why that quote is so powerful.
Let me speak to you the viewer of our art for a minute, you see that “thing” or “feeling” you get when you feel you like something about a certain photographer’s images? That thing you can’t put to words? THAT, is a deep mixture of that artist’s connection with what the world has forgotten about. The Principals and Elements of Art. Photography as an art form heavily relies on these fundamental principles.
“The 7 principles of art and design are balance, rhythm, pattern, emphasis, contrast, unity, and movement. We use this and the elements of art and design – line, shape/form, space, value, color, and texture – to create a Composition. The elements of art and design are the tools of visual artists. The principles of art and design represent how an artist uses these tools to create visual art. By applying the 7 principles of art and design, photographers can create a cohesive image grounded in the foundations of art theory.” – summarised definition from this amazing ExpertPhotography.com article.
When it comes to art, Composition is the arrangement of elements within the pictorial space. Now, there is how we use these rules, break them or use a combination of them to achieve the feeling we want to evoke in you. So it’s not just taking a picture :-), at least it’s not for me, I am very intentional in how I use these principles to draw you to my art. That consistent use of a certain combination of these elements is what I call personal style or personal interpretation. That style/interpretation of a certain artist is THAT “thing” that you like. Don’t worry, we are almost getting to the cheetahs, I promise…
Remember I am still talking to you the viewer, you are always viewing my images and maybe wonder how I visualize them. I can only give that credit to my God, that is how my eyes see the world. I see the world as forms, and shapes, lines and patterns, color and texture, and how they relate to each other. We could literally be standing somewhere talking about something completely different and in my mind, I am seeing the set of my new short film. That’s because I am probably looking at the horizon of the landscape for example and seeing how I can combine the leading lines of the road to draw the YOU viewer to the layers of shapes the hills form in this landscape for instance.
I am also simultaneously seeing the potential of how I can use these principles to create a frame that can potentially bring out the feeling of peace and hope to your living room or office. We the artists understand that the world is a hard enough place and if we can create something that gives you a positive feeling at the end of a difficult day, then our small contribution in making the world a better place is done. We leave the rest to you to continue and distribute that positivity to the world in your own way. And that is the reason I will always make it a priority to travel to more places and look for these deep messages that nature leaves as random clues for us to realize how lucky we are to be alive and walk this beautiful earth.
So to give one example, I was just driving, saw the above in my rearview mirror, and stopped immediately. I stopped because I am able to see the potential of a frame in seconds of it appearing before my eyes. Are you beginning to understand just how powerful this Artform is? Please note, by telling you this technical side of Photography, I am not trying to scare you, I want you to understand why dedicating my life to a profession many people think is just a hobby. I want those people out there who feel as confused as I was before I discovered that my form of expression was in photography to know that there is power in photography. I want the people who see the world this way or look up and see animal shapes in the sky and don’t understand their mind to know that they could be a photographer or a different kind of artist, you just have to find your voice.
Now, am thinking you are wondering where cheetahs come in all of this technical talk? They come in because their natural build for speed and agility provides fine art photographers like myself with fantastic ingredients that we need to create our art pieces. They provide beautiful shapes and forms in our compositions. Makes sense now? Now that you have this knowledge, I want you to appreciate these beautiful creatures in a whole different way. I want you to start noticing the little things I notice about their behavior and how those things help me show you their world inform of frozen frames. I want you to start appreciating this craft because I feel like if we are all more educated on this art form and give it the respect it deserves then we can move on to more important things like concentrating on the important issues that it brings to the table. Like Global Warming, Human-Wildlife conflicts, and how we can find a balance to co-exist with these beautiful creatures we share the earth with.
You can see how powerful the use of shape and form evoke your feelings in your day to day life on this video FORMS & SHAPES
Now that we have established how powerful photography is as an Artform and how these magnificent and agile creatures provide us artists with powerful ingredients to create art, I want you to NEVER forget something. The life and safety of these creatures should always come first. Apart from being fantastic photography subjects, these cats have a delicate life of their own, difficult fights for their place in the hierarchy of predators, they have families to protect and raise, and a greater purpose in the balance of the universe and that should always be considered when documenting as well as while expressing our artistic interpretation of their world. I will always fight for their right to live a WILD and FREE life.
So the next time you go on safari or go to photograph wildlife professionally, I beg you, give them the respect they have rightfully earned as Africa’s Top Predator. Respect their space, don’t make noise when photographing them as it makes them nervous, be quiet, be an observer and just document what they are doing, don’t get in their way of feeding their family because you want a perfect hunt image for example. Be an ethical photographer or tourist. Remember there would be no wildlife photography without wildlife so let’s always put their well-being and conservation first.
So why artists of the savannah? You know that old saying – Game recognizes game? Any Boondocks fans? no? Anyway, the point is because I am an artist myself, I appreciate the mastery at which these creatures do what they do while making it look so easy. There is truly no other predator who does this the way cheetahs do. So I raise a glass to my Day Stalkers, my Artists of the Savannah.
Feel free to share this post, and leave a comment. If you would like to join me on safari in Kenya or anywhere in Africa, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next Wild Story, let’s keep dreaming, exploring and documenting. ~ ClementWild
In my bag on this story varies from Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Canon EOS 5D Mark III as back up. Lenses vary from Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM, Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, and Canon EF 17–40mm f/4L IS II USM