This is the third in my weekly series entitled Inspiration Monday. In these posts I attempt to spotlight a particular photographer, artist, work of art, or person that inspires me to pursue and create my chosen art form of photography. This week’s pick is professional humanistic travel photographer Lisa Kristine.
I was first encouraged to explore Lisa’s gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico by my good friend Marc Gutierrez about a year ago. I trust Marc’s eye for quality photography and made a note to visit the gallery the next weekend. When I got there I realized it was the same gallery I had spotted the last time I was in Santa Fe. It’s hard to miss. Located on West San Francisco street, just west of the plaza, the gallery has enormous and colorful prints of people from distant colorful lands. They are the kind of images that draw the eye of every passerby.
Once inside her gallery I realized Lisa makes full use of the exotic nature of such distant lands as India, Vietnam, Morocco, Burma, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Japan, and the Sahara Desert in her imagery. The bold colors, the exotic cultures, and the use of natural light all blend to awaken and evoke a longing for travel, exploration, and adventure in the viewer. The locations and general nature of her subjects touch on elements of the divine and are powerful at evoking a sense of peace, awe, and wonder within the witness.
At the back of the gallery is playing a video documentary of Lisa Kristine explaining her work, her travels, the challenges she endures, the successes she enjoys, and the people and cultures she comes to know. In it she reports using strictly film and natural light to capture the world as she experiences it, maintaining that this approach best replicates the enchantment of the moment.
Lisa’s photography has inspired and motivated me to take more risks when photographing. I imagine what it must be like to travel to these distant and often remote places and ask people from distinctly different cultures if she can photograph them. And then, once establishing a relationship with the subject, managing to take such captivating photographs. This thought has spurred me to approach more people about photographing them. If Lisa can do this with her subjects I suppose I can attempt to take some images of people in my backyard, who share the same language, customs, and culture. Lisa’s photography has also inspired me to seek that which touches me spiritually; she has encouraged me through her work to look for that which is enchanting, spiritual, divine in daily life. I feel more compelled to photograph that which moves me.
The image above is of a local coffee roaster in Albuquerque and is an example of how Lisa’s work has motivated mine. This coffee roaster often roasts his coffee by some large picture windows in the coffee shop where he works. When I first saw him working several months ago I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee and watched in awe as the early morning light filtered through the window illuminating him beautifully. I marveled how such simple light could draw out the contrast between his red beard, his smiling eyes, his pale skin, and the canvas coffee bags hanging on the wall behind him. I sat there and let that image burn into my mind, and I didn’t approach him to ask if I could take his picture. Several weeks later, with that undocumented moment still burning in my mind, I returned to the coffee shop for breakfast and found him there once again. This time, remembering the motivation gleaned from viewing Lisa’s work, I approached him and asked about taking his picture. He was hesitant at first but as we spoke more he agreed; he even came to get me when the coffee was ready to pour out of the roaster and the shot would be better. I didn’t get the same light as the day I sat glued to my chair, but I did get a shot I really like. And I emboldened my motivation by facing my fear, taking a risk, and asking for permission. I also met a nice person and had a nice conversation.
So take a few minutes to explore Lisa Kristine’s work. If you can visit one of her galleries, do so. You will not be disappointed. There is a gallery in Sonoma, CA and one in Santa Fe, NM. And if visiting these locations is challenging, at least take the time to browse through her online galleries at her website, www.lisakristine.com. While you do that I’m going down to a coffee shop I like and wait for that light…