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Nathan Combs visual art

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selected photographs






Nathan Combs lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. He graduated from Hallmark Instructors of Photography in 1997 and then joined the US Army. He received an honorable discharge from the army in 1998 due to a bad leg. "I think the photo school was harder than basic training," Combs says. "No drill sergeant was as hard on me as the teachers there." His photos have been published in local newspapers and on the web at www.photo.net, www.usefilm.com, and www.photoblink.com.

artist statement

I get my ideas from people. I sit and just watch them: how they move, how they talk, and how they interact with others around them. I also get a lot of inspiration from my friend Amber. She is not an artist, but her words and life experiences feed my work. She has taught me many things, and because of her, my work has improved ten times over. I also draw inspiration from music (Moby, PPK, ACDC, FSOL, Arrowsmith, 5th level, Nickelback, Pink Floyd, Ozzy Osborne/Black Sabbath) and movies and other art forms.

Ok, now for the technical side. I use a Pentax K1000 or Kodak 400 or 800 camera, 50mm lens, 400 Fuji color film, and Adobe Photoshop 7.0. Sometimes I use other gear, but for the most part what you see was shot with my K1000. The computer I use varies: Mac, Dell, and PC. I use whatever I can, because I cannot afford my own yet. To get the photo supplies and services I need, I barter. I worked out a deal with King Photo, a local film store, to digitally restore photos for them. In return they give me film, develop my photos, and burn the photos onto compact disk. King Photo is the best and I thank them.

I believe that a lot of photographers, myself included, depend on too much stuff. I just shoot with my K1000 and a 50mm lens. That is all I need. Where I go overboard is with photoshopping pictures to death sometimes. I have talked to photographers that bring 100 pounds of gear with them to go shoot a sunset. What for? It really does not matter if you have the latest toys. If you are not a good photographer and do not know the fundamentals, you are going to suck. Some people are born with the talent. Others like myself have to work very hard to master photography. What makes a good photo, in my opinion, is that it has some type of emotional grab. Flowers or landscapes, unless they are unusual in some way, do nothing for me. People, on the other hand, give a full range of emotion: anger, sadness, fear. Also, crossing other media with photos impresses the hell out of me. I think mixing painting, drawings, and poetry is one of the best things that has happened to photography since the invention of the 35mm. People have done it in the past, but since Adobe PhotoShop it can truly work well.

I shoot mostly in my apartment. I use my blanket that I sleep with every night and hang it on different walls to get the lighting I want. I do not have a studio so I use whatever light is coming through my windows. At different times of day, different walls give different effects. So I find people to shoot whose look would work at that time of day. I also sometimes use a lamp tree with a 60-watt bulb. Most of those I turn black & white and just use the lighting patterns. The plan for a photoshoot never works out the way you expect, so after the shoot I play with the photos in Photoshop until I get something that looks good. Other places I shoot include an abandoned train station, an abandoned school that looks like a castle, the Artful Dodger coffee house, and the local court house.

I keep a mental record of good places and try to match models to places. I find photoshoot models up at The Artful Dodger. It is somewhere I go when I just need a break and want to sit and talk to people. I have met a lot of people there over the years. I recruit models by just walking up to random people and asking if I can photograph them.

Again I would like to thank Amber. She does not understand how much she helps me. I would like to thank all those people that take the time to look at my photos on the web and leave comments; they really mean a lot to me. If anyone wants to talk to me, I would be happy to talk to you! Email me at: smoke4@rocketmail.com.

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