Don Colin

Don Colin is a fine art photographer living in the Florida panhandle.

Website: doncolinphotographs.com

Instagram: @doncolilnphotographs


How did your interest in your medium begin and how did you arrive at your current style?

My father took photos and developed them in our bathroom when I was a young boy. He gave it up, but I latched on to it from a very young age as a means of finding my place in the world. I often say that I really don't have a style, but that is not all together true. Subject matter has always been an important factor in why a take a picture. Recently ideas born of many years of practice have informed and forged my style.

How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?

I am not all together convinced that the artist's connection to a place makes for the best or the most authentic images. I am always surprised  to see what a stranger to a place finds in my familiar surrounds, something I never thought of as a subject, something completely unknown to me in the my own backyard. Many of my pictures are made in places I have never been before, places I see for the first time as I travel. Sometimes a stranger can uncover what goes unseen to the resident.

How do you choose your subjects?

I suppose the cliche would be to say that I don't choose my subjects but they choose me. Truthfully, I am attracted to subjects that touch something in me. I like old, fading places, unexpected things, and subjects that reveal a mystery and that resonate in my experience or outside my experience. I believe, at least intellectually, that everything is subtext, that the world we see has a meaning that underlies it. I don't mean in a supernatural or spooky way, but metaphorically and that is a concrete thing. 

Photographer Clarence John Laughlin wrote: "I have approached the buildings as psychological and poetic manifestations - rather than from the more technical viewpoints of the architect and historian (which mostly miss the living spirit behind the forms)." When I choose subjects, I look for subjects that possess that "spirit behind the forms."

Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?

As I said, the New Orleans photographer, Clarence John Laughlin was an early touchstone of mine, not for his imagery—though it was what first caught my attention—but the narrative connection in his work. I too, felt that the story behind the image was as important as the image itself. Photographs are my memory. The desire to preserve memory is the motive and what engages me to first frame and then capture a subject. 

Others are Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Jerry Uelsmann, Man Ray, Meatyard , Eurdora Welty, Walker Evans, The and the other Farm Security Administration shooters have influenced how I think about the image. 

In the 1970s to the 1990s I shot mostly color slides believing that color imagery could also be included in the scheme of accepted Fine Art Photography. During that period, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston and William Christenberry were not so much influences but their work paralleled and confirmed my own natural direction.

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Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? 

Sort of. Since I have been working at this full time, I have tried to convene a breakfast meeting every month or two. I have met a few local shooters and friends who are working away at our craft. We all are fairly isolated and have been for some time such that nothing really has come of it, but there remains hope that we can eventually become a really supportive group. 

Where do you go to draw inspiration?

This shifts. In the early days, photographic magazines (still have many of these old issues) were a monthly diet of new images and old images by the masters. Later on in college with access to big university libraries I pored over stacks and had a look the masters. With the emergence of the online websites like Flickr democratized photography and unheralded shooters like myself bring a wellspring of inspiration. The one place that inspires me the most is the road. Getting out and looking and trying to see beyond what is in the front yard but to look behind the obvious.

Do you feel creatively satisfied?

I vacillate. There are days where I feel that what I am producing is finding true meaning. On other days I am ready to sell my cameras and throw the work on the ash bin. Most of the time I do not waver in my commitment to making pictures.