When I was growing up parents used to throw you out of the house to play when they thought you were old enough. So wandering around the city when I was about 12, I found myself at the Art Institute of Chicago, and saw for the first time Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago)
Hopper’s painting really drove home to me a sense of what life was like in a big city like Chicago. It seemed to represent the life that my parents had lived. (Only later did I learn that Hopper had painted Nighthawks in New York.)
When I came back to photography in the mid-nineties, I actually had dreams of taking a photo that would bring the atmosphere of the Nighthawks painting to a photo that could represent “the way we live now.” In October,2008, just a few blocks from where I lived, I saw that scene and managed to take the photo. “Coffeehawks” is the signature photo for the website.
Also, when I was a kid my parents used to drive to El Paso, Texas from time-to-time to visit my uncle and grandfather . My memories of traveling along route 66 and route 54 and stopping overnight in some small town put me very much in sympathy with Stephen Shore’s “Uncommon Places” when it was published.
Of course, there are many more photographers whose work I continue to admire and take inspiration from every day.
Like all photographers, my work takes form through choices in framing and perspective when taking the photo. And, in post processing making choices in shadowing, tonality, dynamic range, and so forth. But, most important of all is simply to “be there” and have the ability to see the photo.