As a former writer, I was always thinking about the words I would use to describe something. The words would guide what I saw and in fact how I saw it. As a photographer, I have to learn to block out the verbal description of a scene and just experience it visually, with no intervening words. I try to see colors and shapes and lines and visual relationships at their purest.
I find that one of the best ways to create impact on my viewers is with strong contrasts of color and light and shadow and darkness. The Dutch masters knew this: I love the way, especially in the chiaroscuro paintings of Rembrandt and his contemporaries, a strong light source illuminates a part of the picture and makes that pop out of surrounding semi-darkness.
Recently, I am finding that, following the work of one of my favorite photographers, Parisian night photographer Brassaï, urban night photography allows me to express that vision. Most large urban areas are visually alive, but I have found Boston at night to be especially exciting. The bright lights pop out of the darkness, and near water and bridges the light reflects everywhere. The downtown, the business district, and especially the Zakim Bridge--all these startle with concentrated light and the deep mystery of the dark.
My images are often dark, but for me, photographer Jay Maisel nails it: “The more light you have in an image, the less drama you get. The details start taking over; the mystery is all gone. The effect of limited light causes drama by leaving most of the image dark.”