Award-winning photographer, Tim Floyd shares his illuminating visual journey and what it means to photograph subjects with an open mind and an open heart.
“Photography leads me to visit and linger in beautiful places. It causes me to look differently at the world, more deeply, and to be present. It makes it possible for me to share my experience with others.” – Tim Floyd
1. What does photography mean to you?
In Herrigel’s story, Zen and the Art of Archery, the Master explains that “the art of archery means a profound and far-reaching contest of the archer with himself.” Photography means the same to me. Photography is my portal to mindlessness, an opportunity to let go of daily life and completely immerse in non-self, to become the picture. That first shutter release is very therapeutic!
Cartier-Bresson said we must never think while taking a picture. As photographers in control of the image, we make decisions, but they should be intuitive. It is imperative during the moment of exposure to connect with the subject, unencumbered by the mechanics of photography. The opening of the shutter, just as the loosing of an arrow, should come as a slight surprise. It should not be a conscious act. That’s why it is so important that the operation of the camera be subliminal.
The highest form of photography is when it becomes a deeply personal exploration of how we perceive the world, which ultimately is an autobiography. We become the subject and it becomes us, through the medium of photography.
2. How would you describe your photography?
I’m a nonconformist because my work is rather eclectic, which violates a lot of rules these days. We’re supposed to pick a genre and a style in order to develop a brand, but I don’t subscribe to that view. The work of photographers I admire most – H C-B, Ernst Haas and Sam Abell, among others – is not confined to any one genre. Avoiding generic silos frees me to work on anything that interests me.
3. When did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression and an art form?
I think it probably occurred with one of my first snapshots as a boy and was the aspect of photography that appealed to me most. I remember feeling a spirituality while seeing the winter sun’s rays over a mountain range in Switzerland and trying to capture that feeling with my father’s Instamatic. I still experience that feeling when I look at that picture.
4. Tell us about “Horsescapes”, your winning submission for the 2020 Prix de la Photographie de Paris international photography competition.
We live on a small ranch in Idaho where we have horses, including a Budyonny mare named Raisa. I usually carry my camera with me everywhere and one day in the barn I made a close photograph of Raisa’s jaw. I had been photographing horses for 30 years, but unlike most of my pictures this struck me as an abstract image of strength and I wanted to make more of such images. Using the M9 Monochrom and a 75mm lens exclusively, often at its closest focus point, I became obsessed with the project, spending hours each day over several weeks. The sensual curves in the ambiguous images reminded me of Palouse landscapes, so I called the series “Horsescapes.” Brooks Jensen published it in LensWork and this year it won a silver medal in the P3 competition.
5. What camera and equipment do you use?
When I was 13, a few months after the experience in Switzerland, an eccentric neighbor gave me his Leica IIIc. I fell in love with photography and learned everything I know about it with that camera. The quality of that pure and simple photographic tool spoiled me. Das Wesentliche. That experience has remained consistent over decades of camera development; an M10 feels like an M3.
My favorite, most-used camera is the M10 Monochrom with 50mm Apo-Summicron-M-Asph lens, although I also use the M10-P and the SL2 for special circumstances. A rangefinder allows you to stay in the moment; reflex and mirrorless cameras have their place, but they interrupt your vision at the very instant you must free your mind and connect with your subject. I also use 24mm, 35mm and 75mm M lenses, and I recently used a pinhole on the M10M for a photo essay published in The Washington Post. I have and use a IIIc, an M3 (made the same year I was made), an M7 and my M9 Monochrom.