There are photographers and there are artists. Sometimes, arguably rarely, they are one in the same. Dan Winters is one of my favorite photographers and I've come to realize that he is also an amazing artist. He doesn't just take portraits, he crafts them. A good number of his images are created on sets that he builds himself. He creates an environment for his subjects, a complete vision that moves beyond a simple portrait. Even in his images of subjects in non-devised environments, there is just something special about Dan's portraits. They are deep. Thoughtful. Sometimes intimate, sometimes whimsical. His lighting and color palette conveys mood and character. His portraits invite you to linger and you come away feeling like you know something about his subjects.
Icons & Ingenuity is more than a monograph of his portraiture. Much more. There is a good sampling of his portrait work with celebrities. It is also an ode to his love of science and American ingenuity. Dan is a thinker. That is evident in his work. You can tell he doesn't simply capture images. He studies things. This is perhaps most apparent in his images of honey bees (Dan is also beekeeper) that he captured through electron microscopes. He was allowed by NASA to photograph the final launches of the space shuttles. With his keen interest in astronomy this had to have been an amazing moment for him and he presents a few images from that experience. Dan has another book dedicated to the space shuttle launches that I will talk about at some point in a future post.
There is an eclectic mix of images in this book that somewhat defy categorization in collection of photography. They certainly demonstrate the breadth and talent of Dan as a photographer and an artist. He included some of his elaborate, science inspired works with paper cutouts. There are camera-less images of his abstract art. There are various photographic odds and ends - things Dan found interesting in his travels in America. He shared some personal images of family as well. Clearly this book represents the people and things that most inspire him.
I found this book to be an inspiration because it encourages exploration and thinking outside the box. Some images are created by capturing what is there. Others are made by altering reality and creating a world from a personal vision. Sometimes a camera isn't even necessary to create the image. This book is about photography. It is about art. It is about science, passion, and creative thinking. It is a personal glimpse into the mind of one of photography's greatest artists and thinkers.