On Broadway is a weekly segment where we feature a NYC Instagrammer to discuss all things iPhoneography and the Big Apple.
Today On Broadway we learn more about NYC iPhoneographer extraordinaire @LydiaDavison!
One of my very favorite Instagrammers is Lydia Davison (@LydiaDavison). She has a very unique, mysterious, B&W style that is equal parts enchanting, provocative…and thought-provoking. Here, Lydia very openly discusses many topics, including her fascinating creative thought process, favorite photo apps…and which Instagrammer inspires her the most.
Tell us a little about yourself…where you’re from, what you do, etc.
I grew up in Paris, where my American parents had moved shortly after my birth to do their thing writing and painting (respectively). When I was in high school, we moved back to the states, to Rhode Island. I went to NYU and since then I’ve been experimenting with various jobs in public relations and social media, but as of late the aim seems to be going back to school. I’m thrilled that it’s for something that is relevant and I’m also thrilled that my photography adventures seem to be coming full circle in regards to skill, understanding and interpretation.
You have a very unique, some might say magical B&W photo style. What is your creative thought process?
Whatever style I have grown into that you describe (thank you!) is something that feels so right in regards to how I process the photograph. The processing that I do after the skeleton of the photo is done is always an adventure, I can go mad with the sheer number of potential “right” versions I am often left with. But I love doing it. While I am known to use a lot of “blur” in my photos, what is never blurry is the intent to raise people’s notion of something.
So, as far as what I do to treat photos, I have a sort of stamp for what needs to happen for something to be “right” — several times a day, I am moved by something. A picture, an idea, a feeling. Generally I scrawl these passages in my day in a brainstorming book I own, and tend to them as soon as I can. Pleasures that produce these feelings have often been a museum, an old restaurant or listening to old music, anything Hitchcock, some interesting architecture….
I never thought I’d have the guts to be the subject of my photos. But I don’t have a troupe of models at my beck-and-call. I am just looking for female limbs, and I’ve already got them. I think hands and knees and these very simple parts of us can be interesting when used in conjunction with something that is anything but delicate, limber and vulnerable. For example the stoic masterpieces all around my home: the bridges, the towers, the stately lines and points that are open for interpretation in NYC. I think my consistency in combining these two subjects have established that I have some need to put these seemingly opposite subject matters in one photo and further, to sometimes awkwardly combine them. It’s about paradox for me, of trying to see things for one thing, then learning they were meant to evoke something very different. My photos tend to be focused on feelings or sentiments as opposed to the blatant subject. They are much more about what’s outside the frame than what’s right in front of you. One way I have certainly tried to draw people’s minds and eyes to a place that’s outside the frame is by blending images, creating pseudo double exposures and such. And for this I am guilty of “modeling” for myself. I’ll take it over modeling for others!
Are there any Instagrammers that inspire you?
I would say Star Rush (@StarRush360) is a photographer I became aware of and somehow managed to engender awareness of myself all at the same time: and all on the same day. I was mesmerized by her. Upon first glance; her photographs are of course much more precise, less surreal and processed than mine. But she does something intuitive in that one can feel by looking at an image of hers. Because, in effect, she literally feels through her photographs. She also has an incredible voice that I have always yearned for with imagery; I feel this is needed in order to present an image in the most honest fashion. As photographers, there is of course the worn-out notion that we are voyeurs and such. Ok. Perhaps. Regardless; she skips over this age-old debate and simply includes a brief, often surprising thought or paradigm to the image. Not a description, nor a setting; but rather a feeling that the image elicits. And it’s hers. She’s devoutly honest. These two dynamics coupled together are hard to separate and work incredibly. So, call me a follower. She provides so much inspiration in her originality; and I hope everyone can find those few individuals that keep your own flame alive.
What are some of your favorite photo apps?
Computer: I like Lightroom 3, as well as varied programs such as Flare, available on the Mac App Store.
iPad: I have too many — but I cannot be without my go-to, do-it-all incredible obsession, PhotoForge 2. I also like Noir (for black and white), Filterstorm and I’m enjoying thus far my brand new Adobe apps for iPad.
iPhone: Where I rarely edit, but I do take photographs: Vint B&W, Pro Camera is pretty cool sauce for a pretty great camera, Luminance and Dynamic Light.
You share your photography on many social media platforms. Which is your favorite, and why?
I’ve never considered myself skilled in the multi-tasking social media department. I do know that I’m no good at Twitter. Facebook and I defriended one another ages ago, and I continue not to love it. Tumblr and Twitter were sort of an easy way for me to extend myself in a bookmarking/occasional social gesture department without much management on my end. That is, I wanted to spit my photos somewhere were I could keep them, but I also wanted to be able to have my corresponding words, often asking questions of others, and have the ability to pull some weight should they serve that purpose. For that, Instagram let’s you take a short cut by providing a sharing option to these platforms from within the app…it can be a bit dizzying hopping from one platform to another. Quite frankly, Instagram is and has been my social media hang-out exclusively for some time. But as I have grown and evolved, I also understand that, by default, these platforms need to come into play if you are pushing for something, if you are even trying to sell your mere idea of things — thus my very own website, Painted-by-Light.com has the standard adjoining Facebook and Twitter links. I will be honest; no; I don’t feel overwhelmed – however – I am in a kind of unplugged mode, or looking to get there. But in addition to my site: 500px.com/lydiadavison
Twitter handles: @isolatedwithin and @noirfoto
Tell us one thing everyone using an iPhone for photography should know…
If it is regarding an iPhone and photography — everyone looking to pursue photography should never feel the need to justify their high-functioning little iPhone. I know personally, I have spent so much time trying to learn everything I could, seemingly in an attempt to move on to a “real” camera. And I’ve got my little dslrs, my various spiffy cameras. I learned how to use them. Neat stuff. But I’m back with my iPhone. Don’t know why I left it. Chances are, if this is a growing interest of yours, it’s not going away any time soon! And what’s more, you can proceed at a speed that’s right for you, and test the applications you like…and the iPhone isn’t going anywhere. But never feel the need to measure its capability vs. a camera that is merely a camera. Not worth it. Ultimately it can give you some extraordinary things, but you are at the helm, not it. Embrace it!
Be real. Be humble. Don’t think that following someone or listening to a stranger’s advice on how you should “follow” them is anything BUT following, and will likely get you less places than if you simply follow who your eyes are attracted to. Some time ago, not only did this following-request occurrence not exist; numbers were not so focused on…I’m not sure when this evolved but what did not change was the varied talent of some people out there. It’s likely you will interact with these people, and likely they will not care for numbers. Photography, after all, is a form of art. That said why throw math into the mix?Thank you, Lydia, for speaking with us!