Comfort Zone

   An artist’s voice differs from artist to artist, and it somewhat defines him or her, regardless of the subject matter; or so it seems. To approach one subject with one's voice, and then approach an entirely different subject with that same voice is a challenge to any artist. To stay with the same subject, which maybe less of a challenge, creates a Comfort Zone.

   A factor that fortifies that Comfort Zone is the collector; what he or she expects in the art work of the artist he or she collects. In truth, for most artists it takes many years to find a following; those who really love one's work and are ready to buy it. So, after finding a following and his creations finally starts selling, to then contemplate changing the subject matter can be a difficult decision to make. This could jeopardize sales, and therefore venturing out becomes scary. Yes, it is said that an artist should be true to his vision, and I agree, but to make a living as an artist, pleasing collectors has to be a part of that vision.

   The photograph of this post is one that is considered a landscape, and because I really work in still life, it is a departure from my usual subjects. However, I believe it has the same voice and style of my still images. Yes, there are some differences, but they are minor. I certainly can not take out the horizon line, every rock and stone, and make the sand part of the sky, as I do in with the background of my Still Life work, but then it would not be a landscape.

   There are three subjects in the photograph: the fence, the sand, and the sky, and of the three, they are simple and minimalist; keeping with my voice, my style. What may seem to be a real departure is the dark sky, where as with my still life __ the sky being the backdrop __ would be white. I used a red filter, to darken it in order to bring out the fence and the sand.

   I do like landscapes, seascapes, and architecture, but as a Muslim, carrying around a camera in some places, and taking photographs of buildings, bridges, etc. has given me many problems. I have been stopped by police five or six times in different cities over a period of years. Each of the officers said that they had received calls from people who where concerned as to what I was doing, by the way I dress and taken photos around the city. I told them I understood, and after showing them my ID, and telling them I am a fine art photographer, they let me go. Could you believe that taking this photo at a beach, that I would be questioned by police? So, taken still life images inside one's studio is another take on the issue of the Comfort Zone.

   This photograph was taken in Atlantic City, NJ. USA. The city is one of the Jersey shore resorts, where mid-city casinos line the boardwalk. I lived a period of my youth there, and attended the high school. I return as often as I can.

 At the every end of the main street, Atlantic Av. where the boardwalk bends around __ called the Inlet __ men fish from the jetties, the joggers make their way around the boardwalk, as well as the bickers early in the morning. This area has not been touched by the ever expanding casinos __ at least at the time of this writing. A few buildings remain, most torn down, and some abandoned for years with vast sandy lots between them. It tells of a past history where the population of Black people called this part of the city home. Now, the beach is so very quiet, except for the winds off the open sea, sea gulls and the fishermen chatting with each other.

   Recently there has been some beach erosion, and there was the feeble attempt to stop it by planting some grasses and setting up wire fences. After the passage of the first year and the approach of the second winter, only a few patches of grass remains, and most of the fences are down; the erosion of the beach creeps on under an open sky.

   I was blessed __ Praise Allah __ to capture this scene, and I enhanced it with gray tones and a grainy texture, which is a testament to the wonders of black and white photography. This is a simple composition of the remaining part of the fence, the beach erosion, and the open sky. I wanted to recreate the peace and the quiet that I have always felt in that place. I love this area, and in my youth, it created in me a comfort zone, which as an adult carries over into my still life work.

   I guess some would say that this post was a bit long, well maybe, but I hope that anyone who really wants to understand my work and finds peace by it would not mind the length so much. If there are advantages __ even in our rushed world __ then one needs to put in the time to get the benefits.

   Tell us what place as a youth you return to as often as you can. What does that place hold for you, and if it has changed. I am sure we will benefit by your reflections.