Straight from the heart

Apr 27, 2016 | 2 comments

“In Stride”: A Study in Red

I’m occasionally asked if I miss photojournalism. Yes and no! I miss the variety of assignments from different magazines that always kept me surprised and challenged. But I don’t miss the pressure, the adrenaline if you will. And at one point, when I simply became tired of creating narratives in sharp focus and accurate color, I decided to walk away from it. The politics of the American publishing establishment was part of the decision as well … but that’s another story.

The first thing that struck me when I began using digital cameras in 2007 was that the feed-back-loop, the ability to instantly review what I had just photographed, was the magic that freed me to experiment and explore more deeply the visual world. Far beyond the very disciplined analog/film practice regarding exposure, focus and light balance being spot on, to the creative potential having a darkroom in the camera, was nothing less than mystical. Wonder and excitement had been restored. During my first year using a high-end digital camera my experimenting was impassioned and compulsive. In that year I exposed no less that 80,000 frames, most of them plumbing the abstract. Had that been professional slide film, my tab for the year in film alone would have been $60.000.

I believe in economy, less is more. I also believe that playfulness and surrender continue to be the hallmarks of interesting photography, and art in general. For me photography is an outlet for my emotions and world view and the camera is a devise for creating and sharing these.

“In Stride” is an example of this economy. While waiting for a bowl of soup at a restaurant on Monday I began to play with composition and light. My camera has a built in HDR (high dynamic range) filter which I like to use: its rich and edgy >>>> colors advance beyond two dimensions, bulked up with mystery and emotion. I had tightly composed a chair with bright plastic seat and some diagonals feeding other perspectives. As I was about to trip the shutter I saw a figure approaching out of the corner of my eye and choose to include it in the frame by widening the composition >>>> at this instant, with the figure in mid-stride, the image shifted: from a static eternity of chair/table/concrete/tile reflecting clouds to a dynamic moment in time with attendant footfalls and the swish of pant legs. With a wider frame the chair seat was squeezed off to the corner, creating tension.

I have a suite of these images, taken in restaurants while waiting for a meal, they are thematic relative to vision and color palate. At some point they could be an exhibition. Some editor will have to sort through a hundred or so to choose ten. I choose to show only one here so as not to dilute the impact of the image a single image, one vision, one thought, one emotion, one breath.

— Thomas H. Ives


Photo taken in Vilcabamba, April 25, 2016, Copyright; Thomas H. Ives 2016, Contact;

Thomas Ives is an American-born photographer who has worked for international news and feature magazines for over 38 years. His photo essays and images have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Geo, Stern, Newsweek, Life, Smithsonian, and many others publications. He currently lives in Vilcabamba with his Ecuadorian partner.

Thomas Ives

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