Integral to my development as a photographer has been my mentors, whom I have been blessed to encounter on my journey of self-discovery with this medium. Jim Herbert, my professor and friend; Michael Stipe, whose photographs I printed and who has been a pure inspiration since my early days; and Jock Sturges, an incredible photographer and generous man. I believe that having this support system around me both during my years as a developing artist and later as my vision matured has been an essential part of becoming a well balanced artist.
The way I create my images revolves around the philosophy that I cannot force the images to come, but must let the images find me. There is an element of synchronicity in this approach that excites the process. All of my images are shot full frame and never cropped. I compose the shot as I see it and hope for the best. I have never been one to arrange a photograph, but rather absorb what is around me and see the potential that exists within it. I am a photographer of people, because the relationship between myself, the camera and the subject has always fascinated me.
In the first short series, the backs of heads, I was interested in capturing the subject's identity without having to show their face, exploring the concept of familiarity so integral to the model-photographer relationship. This idea evolved into a study of simplistic forms and compositions that allowed me to formally explore the square, as I was new to the 6 x 6 cm format and needed greater understanding of how it worked. Over the next four years, I shot portraits of woman and children. Working only with natural light and mostly exterior locations, I began to recognize a connection between the location, the subject and me. I felt that the more personal and direct the images were, the more powerful and mystical they would be.
The final two images come from my most recent body of work, the "Skirt Series." As a young boy, I remember seeing the Little Dancer sculpture by Edgar Degas. I was amazed at how much life this small bronze statue had. I wanted to capture that simplistic beauty of the figure while it was simply standing or sitting. I continued photographing women, but began introducing the skirt into the image, which became the catalyst for this new body of work. I introduced guidelines for myself with the series in that I would only photograph the models in interiors using low levels of natural light. This became a visual as well as a technical challenge in creating the images. The series has naturally developed and changed with each subject, as I learn how the skirt relates specifically to each individual.
Some one once asked me what kind of images I would be making five years from now, and I replied, "I have absolutely no idea. The way I look at things now, and where I am in life then; those will be the pictures. If I knew what kind of pictures I'd make, I would have already lived." I still believe this, eight years after that question was asked. Everyday in some way I think about taking pictures. It is not a job, but a calling; one I am blessed to be given.
I hope you enjoy the images.
To see more of Ian McFarlane's work, visit his Web site: www.ismphotography.com
Ian can be contacted via email:
Photos © Ian McFarlane