Eric L. Woods

Repost of KEHCamera blog post “People Who Have Inspired My Photography”

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20180705 KEH Camera Post – People Who Have Inspired My Photography

Wrote for KEH for two years and saw that my post page has been… streamlined  let’s say. Some are there but do not show up on the page linked above. Others are missing. Will review those that are no longer posted there and I will post them here. This was one I enjoyed writing. Also serves as another means of honoring my father who passed away in 2019 after I wrote this.

Dad teaching his grandson like he taught me. 

Teaching the next generation.

Who has inspired my photography? There are many that come to mind in the conventional sense. Your go to legends like Gordon Parks, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and on and on. Your modern social media darlings that are too many to mention here without forgetting someone. Lastly there are friends who I have grown beside. Some way ahead in experience and some just starting out. Comrades. For the sake of brevity, I will limit myself to the three who first came to mind for me. 

My Dad. 

My father’s inspiration is twofold. 

  1. Example. Whether it was his early instant cameras or later an SLR throughout my childhood my father always had a camera in tow at family events. Every one of the best moments and memories has a photo to document it. Infant. Toddler. Pre-Teen. Teen. And so on.
  1. Belief. My father not only showed me by example, but he went further. Not only teaching me at a very early age (as early as 7 and 8), but also by giving me my own Polaroid One Step camera at 10 or 11 years old. I have always owned a camera since. 

Zun Lee. 

I first came to know about Zun Lee from a New York Times article. As inspiring as Zun Lee’s story and body of work is what impressed me most about Zun Lee was the man himself. To become that successful and still be approachable and down to Earth is a testament to his character. Have had opportunity to meet and talk shop with him on a couple of occasions. 

Additionally, he is an MD and a Healthcare consultant that managed to also follow his photography calling and became a Magnum fellow. Another thing I respect is Zun’s calling to serve under represented communities. That inspires me to think beyond the quality of photos taken of the world and consider photography’s impact on the world. You can follow his most recent work here and here

Lonnie Graham. 

Since Professor Graham was the subject of my very first KEH post this is no surprise. How does he inspire me? Like the title of my earlier post he is a most friendly legend. Him being so open has inspired me to write more and share more with those who ask me questions. I used to be apprehensive in a “Who me?” kind of a way. Professor Graham taught me that we all have our place and it is our responsibility to engage others. We all have things to learn and something to share. How did he do this? 

  • It started with a question. He asked me a question. This blew me away. So many times individuals who achieve any level of success feel as if they must convince others they know all.  Not here. Make no mistake Professor Graham has more photography knowledge in his pinky than my whole person. But with that knowledge there is humility. With knowledge and a little help from Google I was able to answer the question asked.
  • Speaking of humility. I asked him if I could interview him and he accepted immediately and thanked me… What? The debt owed is from me to him. He is at once the most accomplished and the only person asked who accepted maintaining my faith in the photography community. 

Here is a wonderful TED talk by Professor Graham.

Conclusion 

You may have noticed that in listing photographers that have inspired I have mentioned little about taking photographs. That is because those on this list all have inspired me to follow my own vision rather than pursuing a poor facsimile of theirs. That is the most important lesson I learned from all. 

Happy shooting. 

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