© 2002, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved
Each month in Shutterbug
our own David B. Brooks reveals why he's an expert in the field
of digital imaging. His Digital Help column, as well as his reviews
and in-depth how-to articles, have made him a recognized expert who
commands the loyalty of his readers and the respect of the industry.
David has been involved in photography for over 50 years. He began his
career by studying art, design, and theater at Oregon State University
and professional photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography
(no relation). He also showed an early interest in anthropology and
philosophy, eventually leading to a bachelor's degree from California
State University, Northridge. David's experience in professional
photography is wide ranging. His experience includes public relations,
commercial studio assignments, and glamour photography. In addition,
the work he did in multimedia and industrial film production for the
record industry in the 1960s eventually evolved into rock video.
However, there's more to David Brooks than all that experience
and expertise, and we thought it was high time we shared his more personal
work with you. Like David, the work's gentleness is often masked
behind its complex nature.
A Mind's Eye
Before we can truly delve into David's most personal work, which
he refers to as "recreations," it's important to understand
where his heart lies. The key to this understanding is knowing that
he idolizes William Mortensen, a pictorialist who was Cecil B. DeMille's
photographer in the golden days of Hollywood. Pictorialists choose to
see what's in their mind's eye, a philosophy that suits
David rather nicely. "My heart is still with the pictorialists,"
he says. "My recreations are an addition to the distortion already
there. It's a redirection of how people respond to it."
David further believes that photos "always lie...all photos
When viewing his recreations,
which tend to take on a rather painterly feel, it is critical to note
the role he plays in them. Said David, "Roland Barthes who wrote
Camera Lucida said something that struck me strongly: `One thing
that distinguishes photography and other visual arts is that the photographer
is inexplicably tied to the subject.' In my recreations I'm
breaking the inexplicable link between subject and photographer. I'm
doing something like a painter would do: reproduce what's in my
mind's eye with digital photography."
To David, part of the beauty of digital photography is that it broke
that inexplicable tie. As he puts it, "Digital photography is
pure information. A photograph is no longer embedded in a physical model."
Working From A Vast Collection
For the past 10 years David has been recreating images from his vast
collection, which at one time totaled over one million images. To date
he's recreated over 500 images, admitting that "what really
worked only applied to a small amount." David started recreating
his images because, as his friend Oliver Gagliani, a San Francisco based
photographer, once said, "You make a photograph that's successful
and you can't repeat it. You can't do the same thing again."
Although the process of how David recreates his images is far too complex
to cover in this article (something we'll leave to David in a
future story), he can usually make an image in five or six hours if
he works steadily, using a total of four software programs. His working
suite includes Adobe's Photoshop, Synthetik Software's Studio
Artist, Corel's PHOTO-PAINT and Painter.
Abstract School Of Thought
David began doing his recreations to calm an inner frustration about
a sense of misdirection he had for most of his life. In essence, the
work process helped free his creativity. He says, "I have a lot
of education and a love of ideas. For a while I felt that I had to say
something. However, ideas are abstract thoughts. You can't photograph
To comprehend David's abstract thinking, an exploration of his
figure photography is helpful. For many years he chose to create "juxtapositions,"
putting nudes against a backdrop man created. In doing so, he exploited
"hostile" environments in contrast to a natural pureness
of the figure.
One of the most appealing
aspects of his recreations is that each one conjures up a different
mood and emotion. With so many images in one's collection, how
does he go about choosing which photos to recreate? The answer may surprise
David chooses photos that capture a "magic" moment, paying
no attention to when the images were made--some that he's
recreated were taken 40 years ago. "The results of that magic
are what I choose to work with...the basis being what's endured.
Something with universal appeal like flowers are shapes that have a
universal attraction. In a sense, we mimic what attracts us."
Of A Personal Nature
Since these recreations are so very personal, you may be wondering why
after all of these years David is finally ready to reveal his true creative
self. The bottom line: "I do what I do for Shutterbug because
I like to share what I know with others. That's why I do Digital
Help. I like to give a helping hand to my fellow photographers. That
same feeling is at the heart of this work. Also, people have been reading
me for 30 years but don't know what I'm about."
If you have any questions about David's Recreations send your
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.