I’m inspired by struggle and beauty and the more I think about those two seemingly disparate threads, the more I’m convinced that they’re actually the same thing.
I see photography as the best means of self-expression I’ve yet found. Photography, better than any other medium I use, allows me to interpret how I see the world and then share that interpretation with anybody who cares to pay attention.
Design and Architecture photography attracts me because it allows me to capture life as I see it and not necessarily the way it is in an objective sense. Clicking the shutter button on a camera is a judgment call and anybody who thinks otherwise is asleep at the wheel. My photographs, indeed all photographs, assert a perspective and a point of view. Where it gets fun is that I can assert my perspective with all my might but I can’t compel anybody to see what I see. Everyone who looks at any artwork brings with him or her the total of his or her experiences. Someone looking at art projects onto the art as much as they take in. It’s fascinating beyond words. Add to all of that the fact that no one can ever truly master photography or stop learning –all of it’s an unending process. It’s as challenging as it is humbling. In compiling the shots I’m showing how I look at them and think to myself, “knowing what I know since I processed that photo, what would it look like if I shot it today?”
If not pursuing photography, I’d probably be pursuing my bad oil paintings.
Professional photography has influenced my view of the world as I can no longer look at anything without composing a shot. Honestly, every time I look at something I find myself framing what I see. All of this hit some kind of critical mass when I stumbled upon Instagram. Instagram forced and forces me to think inside of a small square and then throw out my vision to the world for their critique.
The most recent photography book I’ve read and would recommend is Tim Martin’s Complete Photographer’s Guide to Lightroom 5. Martin talks a reader through all of the features of Adobe Lightroom from how to catalog photos to how to edit them. There’s a lot to learn and Martin breaks things down into manageable and logical steps.
The most challenging shot I took was less about the procedural challenge as it was about developing the confidence to pursue my favorite form of photography – street photography. I love street photography above everything. Turn me loose with my Canon in an unfamiliar place and I could not be happier. What took me a while to get used to was photographing strangers both on the sly and with their permission. It took me a while to develop the confidence as a photographer to walk up to a stranger and say “Hi, may I take your picture?”
The most beautiful place I’ve visited thanks to my photography career is a toss up between two beautiful cities in Italy – Positano and Ravello. They’re important because in those places I first saw that I had a raw talent for photography. But breathtaking photographs of breathtaking scenery is easy –too easy. I find myself copying life when I’m in surroundings like that and that’s not where art lives. I get a lot more juice walking through a so-called bad neighborhood here in Lancaster [Pennsylvania] or in New York or Philly and finding beautiful compositions in places where most folks assume that there’s no beauty.
The project I dream about photographing someday is actually one I am working on now. A photographic series with the working title “Landmarks Nobody Talks About.” I live in a part of the country that’s obsessed with its own history but only parts of its history. This region, like most regions, is obsessed with nostalgia that passes itself off as history. It’s a white washing that sees the past through a distorted lens to make people now feel like the past was somehow superior to today. The good old days that never were has a death grip on the present and it’s not just in the United States. It’s a human characteristic to think that life was simpler and better in the old days but that’s simply not true by any standard. When that sentiment becomes an agreed upon historical narrative the result is a mythology that has no real lessons to teach. It can become really damaging when those ideas work their way into political campaigns and mass movements.
What I find really interesting is how nostalgia-as-history plays into how people perceive the idea of a landmark. Colonial-era mansions? Can’t touch them. The slave quarters behind them? Bulldoze them now. Entire neighborhoods where the huddled masses clawed their way out of poverty? Fill them with Starbucks and Chipotles because upwardly mobile people want to move back downtown.
Along the same lines, it’s not the gentrified parts of a city populated by folks who’ve made it that give a place its sense of place. It’s the parts where people are still engaged in the struggle to make life better that give a city its identity. My series is about documenting those places of hardship and then showing them to an audience who wants desperately to believe that everyone’s already made it. Radical, I know.
My advice to those who feel the call to pursue the art of photography is to buy a camera and editing software, and then make many, many mistakes. Meet and talk to other photographers as often as you can.[content_band style=”color: #333;” bg_color=”#ffffff” border=”all” inner_container=”true”] [custom_headline type=”center” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”true”]Paul’s Favorite Five[/custom_headline] [slider animation=”slide” slide_time=”5000″ slide_speed=”650″ control_nav=”true” prev_next_nav=”true”] [slide] [/slide] [slide] [/slide] [slide] [/slide] [slide] [/slide] [slide] [/slide][/slider]
Paul Anater is the director of marketing at The Reclamation Project and its parent company, ABK Today in Lancaster. He’s a native transplant of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in that he was born and raised in Lancaster and moved back recently after a 25-year sojourn along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. He’s been affiliated with the kitchen, bath and building product industries for the last 15 years and along the way has worked with such noteworthy companies as Google, Blanco, Delta Faucet, GE Monogram, Bosch, Houzz as well as a variety trade events in the US and Europe.
Follow Paul as he documents his photographic exploration and journey via his Instagram account Paul_Anater.