The Lens as a Brush

Edward Steichen did portraits of some of the most famous movie stars of the late 20’s and 30’s. My interpretation is that he did not taken them as much as paint them with light. I’m quite sure that his images of Martha Graham, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo match many of the master painters in the interplay between textures and the beauty of these women. I believe that mastering light and using The Lens as a Brush produces images that are worthy of the title fine art.

Why is it that such powerful images could be taken with such old tools? It is because of the understanding and artistic vision of Mr. Steichen. These images reveal nothing of bare bodies of these women but capture their sensuality in a most powerful way.

Understanding light and what a specific lens can do with it, is in my mind synonymous with understanding what brush to use with what paint. It is my thought that I don’t know a lens until I’ve taken 10,000 images with it (similar to the 10,000 hour rule for knowing a musical instrument).

My challenge to you as a photography and an artist, is to know the light and select your tool that you understand will best capture that light in its rendering of the soul of a subject. Forget the best technical aspects of your equipment and focus on the way your subject needs to be painted in light.