“Composition is king to me, everything else follows suit. Color and overall aesthetic also play a big role which ultimately influences my choice of photo gear. Conceptually I think I am always trying to find a subject. It could be a person, a building or a bridge. Either way I need a character to help tell a story.” Clay Lipsky
Clay Lipsky. Born in 1974, Clay Lipsky currently lives in Los Angeles, California (USA). He is a self-taught photographer who also works as a Graphic Designer. Clay Lipsky is represented by online galleries “The Ten Photo” and “Nevares Fine Art”. His series “Atomic Overlook”, which show tourists watching nuclear explosions, has recently been published as a book.
Artist statement: “My work is inspired by the ever-changing landscape of the modern world. In general I strive to capture the beauty of nature, depict the complexities of mankind and find the hidden nuances stuck in between.”
Clay Lipski, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My dad bought me a 35mm Pentax film camera when I was 13 years old. Soon after that I joined the yearbook staff and thus began my photographic journey. I still have that camera today.
Why did you become a photographer?
It wasn’t a choice, but more of a gravitational pull to the medium. I grew up with interests in illustration and graphic design, but there has always been something magical to me about looking at the world through a lens.
What does photography mean to you?
It is an outlet for expression, a form of therapy, a means to find one’s self and a tool and excuse to explore the world.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
James Nachtwey inspires and humbles me with his unapologetic images and selfless dedication. He takes photography to its greatest potential by showing the world that one person can make a difference. His images expose the naked truth in a way that is beautiful, heartfelt, epic and often simultaneously repulsive and tragic.
“War Photographer”: Documentary about war and conflict photographer James Nachtwey
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, “War Photographer” is the compelling portrait of the man considered the bravest and most important war photographer of our time, James Nachtwey. It’s an intimate look at the world through James Nachtwey’s eyes. Interviews with colleagues, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, help describe the personality of James Nachtwey.
“The pictures that were coming from Vietnam were showing us what was really happening on the ground level. It was in contradiction to what our political and military leaders were telling us. They were straight forward documentary images. A powerful indictment of the war, of how cruel and unjust it was. When I finally decided what to do with my life, it was to follow in that tradition.” James Nachtwey
Your favorite photography quote?
“Buy a camera, you’re a photographer. Buy a piano, you own a piano.”
How would you describe your photographic language?
I do not have one particular process or style and I enjoy that freedom. It keeps me growing as an artist and learning new ways to see. Yet despite my varied approaches, I do often find myself drawn to finding the lone protagonist and exposing ways that man shapes and scars the landscape (both rural and urban). At times I adapt my methodology and style to make something creative happen at a particular moment.
Follow what inspires you, even if you don’t understand why at first. Shoot what you know, shoot what you feel. Eventually it will make sense and you will (hopefully) understand your motivations and move on from there. Either way, you need to shoot with desire. If not, it will show in your work.
Composition is king to me, everything else follows suit. Color and overall aesthetic also play a big role which ultimately influences my choice of photo gear. Conceptually I think I am always trying to find a subject. It could be a person, a building or a bridge. Either way I need a character to help tell a story.
- Clay Lipsky – www.goclaygo.com
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It needs to have a strong subject matter that is elevated to nearly metaphoric symbolism through its photographic artistry. An image that is aesthetically beautiful but also has the conceptual weight to back it up. A one frame movie.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Photography can be whatever you make it, from documentary to abstraction and therein lies its power. I could find inspiration through traveling, experimentation, in seeing the artwork of other or shooting until something clicks (no pun intended).
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I use anything and everything from Polaroids to film and digital. I am also getting into combining old and new by using vintage lenses on digital camera bodies. You will usually find me with at last three cameras on hand because I like to have options.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I suggest Lenscratch.com.
What photography book would you recommend?
Since I am self-taught, I’ve never really read a book “about” photography. But the world of photobooks is exploding now, where people are self-publishing amazing titles. It has caused me to re-evaluate my work and see photography in a new context where it’s not about the single image, but instead a body of work that relates. Collections such as the “Indie PhotoBook Library” are a good place to start and find that type of cultivation.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Don’t do it, find a career that pays the bills and save your money for camera gear and save your creative energy for the photos.
More information about contemporary photographer Clay Lipski