I was reading a post on someone critiquing Tyler Mitchell’s work of Beyoncé in the September issue of US Vogue. Besides the fact that this is a monumental coup for black photographers, I applaud this young man for staying true to his ideal and to Beyoncé for seeing the strength in his individuality.
One of the comments that struck a chord with me was about the presence of “noise” in the photos seen on Facebook. To paraphrase, “I need to see the original because these photos seem to have a lot of noise” - to which someone responded that noise is not a bad thing. I stand by this idea that noise is not a bad thing. Now this may come off as slightly biased to some of you since for me and my work, noise is a must. Guess what? Get over it!
For a long time, I struggled with where I fit in the world of photography, particularly since my work is a stark contrast to what you see with traditional photographers. Once I really immersed myself into it, like most newbies, I compared my work and wished that it looked more like this or that. After some conversations with some photogs I had come to admire, I had a come to Jesus with myself. “Cathy you've always done your own thing. Why is this any different? Do what feels good to you and keep it moving.” It still wasn’t instant, but once it happened it was as if a great weight had been lifted. For me, it was the equivalent of the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ ... “If you build it, they will come.” When I stopped comparing and worrying about the likes and what other people thought, they did come.
For those of you who are new to my work, the base of my artwork is my photography. So, it all starts with a single photograph and that photograph, for me, is not enough. I love contrast and sharpness ... in MY work. Due to that I add noise, sometimes quite a bit, to my base photograph before starting to add the other components. I may even add more afterwards, but even if I choose to simply leave it as a photograph, the noise factor is a must.
I’ve only recently committed to black and white photography aside from my normal work, but what I found when reviewing some of my older work is that I’ve always incorporated some form of texture - even that as simple as adding noise. I’ve received some amazing feedback from some of the artists I capture saying that my black and white work reminds them of the “Blue Note Era”. That is a tremendous compliment and I graciously accept it with pride and humility.
So, for those naysayers that think noise is not cool, I say keep doing what you’re doing as long as it works for you. Stop being so close-minded in your thought that there is only one way.