Mentors. Inspiration. All the things that keep us alive as creative people. One entered my life during my freshman year of college. Iâ€™d played with a camera and learned darkroom basics during high school, but here I was striving to learn more.
In walked Ted Orland, visiting professor, trailed by a long, healthy resume, which included time spent as Ansel Adamsâ€™ assistant. At a school known for its academics over its arts, Ted couldnâ€™t be certain what kind of students heâ€™d get. He ended up writing an op ed for the school paper pointing out the very limited photographic course offerings of the university and how that restricted its students. He went on to challenge all of us by saying that compared to our peers from other institutions, Stanford students needed to learn to take greater artistic risks, expose ourselves more, and seek out a broader range of photographic subjects.
The quarter I spent in Tedâ€™s class was a great beginning to a long-term friendship. For nearly 30 years now (gulp!), Ted and I have been corresponding by letter and email. In 1993, he sent me a copy of his book, Art & Fear, (co-written with David Bayles), which I deem a must read for all creatives. Through the years, other books of Tedâ€™s arrived via post: Man & Yosemite, Scenes of Wonder & Curiosity, The View from the Studio Door. All have inspired me, as have our personal exchanges. Having someone to bat ideas back and forth with for decades, through each of our periods of artistic growth and discovery, has been an irreplaceable gift. All artists should cultivate such a friendship if they can. Tedâ€™s words of encouragement have kept me going through my doubts, and Iâ€™ve had the honor of reading early drafts of some of his writing. And just a few weeks ago, I received an updated version of his poster Photographic Truths, a Murphyâ€™s Law list for photographers.
[photopress:Salon0109.jpg,full,centered] Â© Christina Florkowski
Ted and a group of fellow creators meet monthly for artist salons where current work and food are shared, and Iâ€™ve been a happy crasher through the years when my travels have coincided with one of their gatherings. I always leave inspired and enriched and craving a group of my own in my town. As Iâ€™ve discovered from this friendship, artists need to seek the company and support of other artists.
Ted has a magnificent eye infused by a deliciously ironic sense of humor. I encourage all to visit his website to view his beautiful images from classic b&wâ€™s, hand-colored gems, Holga explorations, and uniquely woven panoramas.
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