09 July 2009


The struggle for many photographers is to shoot something truly unique.

Let's put aside the epistemological argument that creativity is an iterative process; that all artists -- whether consciously or not -- are influenced by predecessors; that nothing is born of the pure ether. The uniqueness I'm talking about is the opposite of the hundred photos of Antelope Canyon with a shaft of light, the thousands of images of Delicate Arch framing the La Sal mountains, the countless shots of the Eiffel Tower at night (or during the day!) or the Taj Mahal receding from view, reflected in its pool of water. Many of these images are wonderful works, technical mini masterpieces. But, we have seen them so many times, over and over, with little variation. Does that mean a fine art photographer should never venture to a slot canyon, Arches National Park, Paris or to Agra, India. No, but to capture something different from standard stock images he/she must think and see different. This difference can create uniqueness of an otherwise iconic and oft-replicated scene or landmark. The highest compliments I have been paid -- from several photographers -- were variations of: "you know I have seen this shot many times, but never like this." Light, positioning, technique, composition, can all contribute to changing a "been there, seen that" shot to something unique.

Then along comes someone who takes the noun
unique to new levels. Take a look at the image with this post...what do you make of it? Do you know what it is? Do you have any clue how it was created? Do you like it? Have you seen anything like it before? If you answered 'no' to the last question, you are only partially correct. If you have ever seen a part of your body (or perhaps someone else's) x-rayed, you are half way there. This image is an example of Albert Koetsier's x-ray photography or x-rayography as he calls it. He has created something fresh via the x-raying of fairly mundane natural objects (small shells, leaves, ferns, flowers and the like). After printing the images, some he has hand-painted ala the turn of the (19th) century technique of hand-tinted photographs. While the colored images are beautiful in their own right, I prefer the simplicity of the stark and elegant B&W renderings. Regardless of your preference, Mr. Koetsier has taken a purely scientific craft and elevated it to Art and in the process created something we can truly call unique. Check his work out at Beyond Light.

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