Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sunday Interview with Photographer Andy Ilachinski, & Picture Prompt Challenge...

Welcome to One Shoot Photography Sunday!

Abstract Glyphs
In addition to being an extremely talented photographer, Andy Ilachinski is a physicist specializing in the modeling of complex adaptive systems (with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics). He reveals that since his parents gave him a Polaroid Instamatic camera for his 10th birthday, he's been studying the mysterious relationship between inner experiences and outer realities ever since...
"My creative process is very simple. I take pictures of what calms my soul. There may be other, more descriptive or poetic words that may be used to define the “pattern” that connects my images, but the simplest meta-pattern is this: I take snapshots of moments in time and space in which a peace washes gently over me, and during which I sense a deep interconnectedness between my soul and the world."  —Andy Ilachinski
One Stop Poetry's Chris G. conducted the following interview:

Swirls, Whorls, and Tendrils Triptych

In what ways has photography been a part of your life?
I was given my first camera - a Polaroid Instamatic - when I was 10 (which was exactly 40 years ago!). My very first show - how can I forget? -  was an "abstract" close-up of my big-toe!. Since that time, I never looked back ;-) I've had a camera in my hand ever since.

What about photography appeals to you?
"I believe that photography gives me the possibility to express the way in which I see the world. It also gives me (sometimes) the power to shape it in a way in which I want to see it. But the most, it gives me the possibility to transmit the beauty of this world."

Mystic Flame

Do you find similarities between photography and poetry? What is your personal philosophy about photography?
Both obviously represent a means - a "language" - of expression; though each has its unique gifts and requires something of the "observer" (or listener). As languages of the soul, neither can bepracticed very well until the artist becomes wholly immersed in the craft. Just as "words" alone - without craft - convey little of lasting value, so, too, "pictures" - by themselves, without reflection or careful artful consideration, will almost never show anything more than what the picture depicts as a "thing." In either case, the art - for me - comes from the images (or words) communicating something of what the artist *felt* (and/or experienced), beyond a mere regurgitation of "what was there." As Minor White used to say (one of my favorite photographer-teachers, and a true inspiration, though I was too young to ever meet him), "One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are."

Micro Worlds Triptych

What about photography appeals to you--and how did it first become
a part of your life?
My "day job" is as a physicist, specializing in the modeling of complex adaptive systems. I therefore spend a lot of waking hours using the right-half of my brain. Photography - a decidedly nonverbal language that has even less to do with "equations" - compels me to exercise the left-half. This joy - and it is a true joy (akin to a spiritual experience for me, when I am out with my camera) – is something I have found I cannot live without for too long. Even a few weeks without going out with my camera - if only to *try* to find something, to experiment with compositions - leaves me sad and yearning to put aside my equations.

Santorini Greece

Based on your career in physics--have you found any correlation between your career and your photography? Do the two coincide at all?
Intuitively, one might suspect little overlap (as already alluded to above: one left-brained, one right-brained). But to do well in either requires creativity, which transcends these conventional categories. "Leaps of faith" are required in both disciplines. Whether one is  trying to "connect two pieces of the puzzle" to make them fit in physics, or finds just the right angle and light to "capture the shot," the inner creative processes are remarkably similar; dare I say  identical. More to the point, when one is in the "flow" – whether doing physics or photography, or just *living* in the moment - that "state" is just that, an inner reflective state for which largely arbitrary labels such as "physics" or "photography" no longer apply. When I am engaged in doing either discipline, the simple truth is I always seek to gain that quiet inner contemplative "flow" state (hence the name of my website: "Sudden Stillness").

Where are some of the places you’ve
shot photographs? 
Illusory Fragments
My dad, a lifelong artist (though not photographer) taught me even before I got my first camera, that good art can be made anywhere. Indeed, he often liked to say that "art is the craft of converting the ordinary into the extraordinary". I take particular delight in "communicating" a beauty in what most passerbys would dismiss as uninteresting at best or ugly at worst. One of my favorite projects in recent years was a portfolio I call "Entropic Melodies" which is essentially close-ups of dilapidated windows. Having cropped away the context of what the dilapidated windows really *are* I was able to show the underlying beauty of the geometry and tones of the reflections in broken glass. Another example is a recent series called "Swirls, Whorls, and Tendrils" which are essentially a collection of "snapshots" of a single drop of ink as it diffuses in a shallow pool of slowly rotating water. Having said that, I have also been blessed with an ability to travel every so often; always with a camera - or cameras! - in my hand. In the last decade or so, my wife have been to Hawaii, Florida, London, Greece, and Scotland. Portfolios of all of these places are posted on my blog and website.

Spirit and light

What would you suggest to people just starting out in such creative pursuits? I wrote a long piece on that subject in my blog once (here is the link). A young artist emailed me with the question: "What are the most important lessons you've learned on your way to becoming a fine-art photographer?" My answer (elaborated considerably in my blog entry) consisted of these fundamental lessons: (1) Never stop taking pictures; (2) Forget about things and concentrate on feelings; (3) Do not internalize (or take too seriously) what others tell you about your pictures; take the pictures that are important to you; (4) Learn the basics of technique, so that "technique" never again requires your conscious attention; (5) Never stop learning from the masters, and their photographs; and (6) Forge your own path (strong form of lesson #3).


What inspired you to share your work, opinions, etc. with the world?
Another lesson my dad taught me is that art, if left alone in the company of just the artist who created it, is only *half*-an-art; true art needs to be observed, and experienced, by others. There are three singular moments in which my artistic joy is at its peak: (1) the ineffable instant preceding my finger going down on the camera's shutter button to go "click"; (2) the final (post Photoshop) print as it emerges out of my Epson printer; and (3) the expression on a person's face as he or she first gazes upon a print of mine that they have "emotional reaction" to. Posting on the web dilutes #3 somewhat ;-) but the tradeoff is more than my fair-share of heart-felt emails I get from time to time from people that an image or two has touched in some way.

Sudden Stillness

*To learn more about Andy Ilachinski and his beautiful photography visit his blog & gallery:


Now for the Picture Prompt Challenge!

I hope Andy Ilachinski's photography and creative insights have inspired you!

Here's the challenge:
Try your hand at a poem (or Flash 55), post it on your site, and then sign in to Mr. Linky so people can find your work. Please let us know what you are sharing by leaving a brief comment. Finally, please visit the other participants, comment, and give credit to Andy for his talent.  Thank you. —Adam

Accept the picture prompt challenge! :)


dustus said...

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. Go on and take the prompt challenge today... Be creative and have some fun! Cheers

Reflections said...

Hope everyone enjoys this interpretation of the photo prompted here by Andy. Great photography!

Pete Marshall said...

what a wonderfully written article...the photography is amazing and the interview so for the picture prompt...couldnt my cup of tea!!!!! cheers pete

Shashi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shashi said...

I liked the works of Andy and he is amazing. Being an amateur photographer myself, I realise how much pain and focus he would have to go to work on his subjects. Wonderful images and great interview. Thanks Adam and Chris.

Put up my old verse "Some Just Don't Dream" for picture prompt challenge here, as I thought it to be quite suitable for the prompt. I have used the image of Picture prompt ( I guessed it to be Andy's so I have linked it back to him and one stop, hope that is OK) at my blog as well as my original image, that I took in Mumbai - India few months back.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

Gigi Ann said...

I enjoyed the interview, and posted my picture prompt again this morning.

wanderer and vagabond said...

I read through the interview and went back into thinking a lot of things that i have ignored for days, months or perhaps years together.

Do read my entry under the photo prompt challenge.

And Andy--thank you again.


Brian Miller said...

this is an excellent interview...great job chris and a wonderful introduction as well to a true artist...great pics...

Glynn said...

Good interview, Andy (and Adam) -- and great photos.

Glynn said...

I screwed up the link and had to add a new entry - sorry about that.

me_duress said...

Fantastic interview and beautiful phographs.

As for the picture prompt - it prompted me to write about my love for the sea!

Liza said...

Fantastic photography.
I love your creative process Andy.
My camera has become an appendage.

Claudia said...

thanks adam and chris for an excellent interview with an excellent photographer. jumped over to his website and i love the peaceful pureness of andy's pictures - they let the soul breathe...

Nessa said...

I love the diversity in the images. Beautiful. Great interview.

Myrna R. said...

My husband has abanconed (hopefully temporarily) his passion for photography. I know little about the art, but certainly do appreciate this interview, which inspires art of any medium.

Maybe I'll take the prompt challenge.

Claudia said...

couldn't resist to do the challenge - the picture is just too good...

M.L. Gallagher said...

I really enjoyed the interview and my peek at Andy's blog -- great inspiration.

I love what Andy said about taking photos of what soothes his soul.

This photo really soothed mine and I posted my poem, Where Sky meets Sea on my blog.

Thanks Adam and Chris for inspiring me this morning!

Hope said...

I think it's wonderful how people can find different way to connect to the universe, mankind or just to themselves.

Love your images, Andy. They are amazing and very peaceful!

enjoyed the interview very much. Very good advice given.

well written article
thank you One Stop!

cianphelan said...

Hope you all enjoyed the interview! It was a real pleasure--and Andy is one hell of a photographer. He has some amazing insights, especially when you have a look at his blog. Hope you all engage the prompt - it's certainly a great shot for it! All the best to Andy for taking the time to do the interview and provide us with all these lovely shots.

ilachina said...

my, what a response!
there is an amazing array of talent here;
so much inspired poetry!
the challenge image was taken in skye, scotland
last year; and the Friedrich-like figure is my
beautiful wife admiring Skye's infinity on one
of the last days of our two week trip there (we also
visited Edinburrough, the Highlands, and Orkney).
I had my back turned to the shore for quite a while, usinh
the last light to "compose" some close-ups of
various kinds of debris on the craggy shore (nothing
if interest emerged). at some point i stood up
to give my back a rest, turned toward the water,
and saw the scene my camera was able to capture and
that you see here. an essentially effortless
shot, and my favorite of the whole trip. a mini-lesson
there too (for me): the best, most meaningful, images
are most often those that require least (conscious) effort ;-)

i want to thank everyone for taking the time
to read the interview, and to add their own inspired

Melissa Campbell said...

What wonderful photos and lessons in life--thanks for sharing! One of my dreams is to visit the land where you so beautifully captured this seascape and inspired my words. Many blessings.

gospelwriter said...

He's a great photographer, thanks for posting this article and interview. I had fun with the challenge...

hedgewitch said...

Striking photography and interesting interview. Wrote my interpretation in the shower because it didn't seem to want to wait. You could easily write a poem about any of the posted photos, though. They're full of thoughts.

Shan said...

Had to have a pop at this one, such a haunting and yet uplifting image. Thank you ever so much for bringing us this mix of art and beautiful words.

libithina said...

enjoyed the pic of Andys really inspiring thanks @Onestoppoetry Hope you like my take ~ think my link went somewhat awry so please click on highlighted One of a Kind for blog poem ~ Love Lib

Ranee Dillon said...

I loved the interview and photographs. Inspiring! I'm in the process moving. So I will post comments throughout the day.

libithina said... curtresy of twitter for my blogspot ~ some gremlin a foot ~ hope you can access my blog ~ Once again a great pic Andy and great interview @OneStopPoetry

Pete Marshall said...

hi libithina...updated your link so people can click on it direct...some great work today...but what an amazing image...cheers pete

Maureen said...

I've been out in the Virginia mountains all day visiting artists' studios but I knew of the challenge before I left this morning and wanted to try to write something when I returned. My poem is titled "Surface Impressions".

Great interview here today with a marvelous photographer.

Fireblossom said...

Mine is about Solomon Andree's failed polar expedition by balloon, in 1897.

She said...

I love Andy's work. Excellent Sunday interview and thanks for the picture prompt!