Even as a kid, I enjoyed looking at ants closeup with a magnifying glass (and then roasting them!). Now I perform Stingerotomies on Bumblebees so a leash can be attached and make “pets” out of them, or coax Moths onto a fingertip to do their “portrait.” Of course I examined other things as well, and when I began getting serious about Photography in high school, and not wanting to replicate what others were doing, I started going out at night, thereby learning about time exposures, light trails, and tripods (along with runins with cops curious about my nocturnal wanderings). Later on in college, I became one of those dorks who made a camera part of my person, but at least was prepared if I came across anything of interest.
Unlike the Painter, the Photographer has to work with What’s There (unless it’s some crazy PhotoShop gizmo). So it comes down to Subject Choice and Treatment. While it may be overly simplistic, in any given situation for the most part, a properly balanced composition involves keeping as much of the good stuff as possible while getting rid of as much of the bad stuff as possible (i.e. making a good thing better). That may be formalistic, but it’s a formula that works for me. As Edward Weston, whose work and writing have been my greatest influence, wrote: “Composition is the strongest way of seeing.” A couple of other things he said in his Daybooks that stuck with me are: “To reveal the essence of the thing” and “the mystery of things revealed more clearly than the eyes see.” I always say that if you want to take / make good pictures: 1) Learn how to operate your equipment and 2) Go to interesting places. Now with today’s fully automatic digital cameras, #1 is pretty much taken care of. That makes the discovery of those “interesting places” all the more important, but then again, to the curious eyeball, that unfamiliar weed in the garden could be an “interesting place.” Remember, the slower you go, the more you see. Make Time your friend: Do Less.
While the notion of “Photographer as Big Game Hunter” has always appealed to me (“Bring ‘Em Back Alive”), probably a more relevant analogy would be “Photographer as Translator.” By this definition, a successful photograph would be one that provides a deeper understanding of it’s subject or reveals it’s subject in a new and different way. Additionally, in my photography, “success” is measured by how well Inner and Outer Landscapes match. To find the Unreal in the Real that is the goal (then perhaps I’ll be in a position to find the Real in the UnReal); to celebrate the fundamental Order of Life. In the end, I truly believe that if an image is strong enough, it doesn’t need a lot of words to explain or go along with it.
Finally I’d like to thank Bill Jones and The Photo Argus for being such a great photography site/resource and the opportunity for getting my work “out there.”
Warren’s Work and Words
Personal Note by June Krupsaw (wife)
I fell in love with his work before I ever met him.
It was 1980, in Washington D.C. at the Mazza Gallery, where several of his color photographs were on display as part of an “Ivy League Art Show.” When I got close enough to see the name on the print, I was stunned to discover that it was my same maiden name. I had to meet him. Unlike a lot of names, all the KRUPSAW’s were related. Right away, the idea of doing a book together came to mind. I’d do the poetry; he’d do the pictures.
I wrote him soon after and he responded. He turned out to be a third cousin mutually unknown to each other until then. One thing led to another and, long story short, we’ve now been married 26 years.
In the first few years of being together, I arranged exhibitions of his work at a number of places local to me in D.C. including The National Academy of Science and Children’s Hospital (where sick children would write him notes about how comforting his work was to them).
Over the years, we’ve had the great, good fortune to travel and photograph in many visually thrilling places such as: Antarctica, New Zealand, Madagascar, Iceland, The Galapagos (separately), Costa Rica, along with parts of Western Europe, Canada, and the U.S., including Hawaii.
I’m still amazed by his ability to find subject matter ANYWHERE. We’ll be driving along some country road, he’ll stop, back-up, and point out something nobody would have seen. Next he finds the nearest place to pull over, gets out with his ever-ready camera, and checks it out. Sometimes “Yes,” sometimes “No,” but he takes the time for a closer look.
When he decides it’s a “go,” he prepares the background; it may need “help” (a random twig is removed, something distracting is plucked out, a bug is flicked off or left on). Occasionally I’m recruited to assist: hold up black cloth background, keep branches out of the way, when raining raise an umbrella over his tripod-mounted camera while he makes final adjustments, that sort of thing.
I’ll remove a sprouting onion from the refrigerator and that becomes a subject. He sees the early morning sun creating an interesting shadow angle as it illuminates my glasses on the counter and that becomes a subject. I bring back a Dandelion from my morning walk and challenge him to photograph it in a new and different way. He does it! It is as if he somehow thinks and sees in picture-making terms and then glorifies his subject.
His extreme Visual Awareness is not always a good thing in our day-to-day life, however. Around the house, for example, it’s not so wonderful when every little spot or new pile of stuff is scrutinized according to his visual standards of organization and aesthetics.
Yet, by revealing unseen surrounding beauty and going after it, our life together is as visually exciting, interesting, and gratifying as when I first met his work.