Bruce Kemp: I love to both write and shoot. It’s like the old saw “a change is as good as a rest” and that doubly applies for creativity. I only wish I could also paint and compose music. I make a full-time living from the arts so I pay attention to what is being published by other writers and photographers. Their styles are fodder for my considerations as are their subject choices. But so is my addiction to the news. My forty-year career has been made possible by this.
Who inspires me? I think, in terms of photography, it was most of the old Life Magazine photographers who inspired me. They were story-tellers with their cameras. Henri Cartier-Bresson and W. Eugene Smith had a huge impact on me for their photo essays. Also, the Depression-era and Vietnam shooters taught me the need for socially responsible photojournalism. Photographers like Edward Weston and Ansel Adams made the cut for me because of their total understanding and command of light. Yousuf Karsh is a portrait photographer who sets my world on fire with a desire to make great photographs of people – as is Irving Penn. I am not a big rock, stick and water guy.
As far as writing goes, Pablo Neruda, Dylan Thomas, William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman are my go-to poets – and I am trying to expand that. Brian Friel and Tom Stoppard are my current favourite modern playwrights (although I make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford to indulge my lust for Billy’s work). For non-fiction, I’ve enjoyed Thomas Cahill’s Hinges of History series and he continually teaches me about the importance of good and accurate research with fact-checking as does Simon Winchester. Needless to say Donald Trump is not on my list. Anything by Bill Bryson because I admire a writer who can take an everyday situation and make me laugh until I wet my pants. My fiction influences are wide-ranging. When starting my career I admired the historical fiction of Leon Uris and James Clavell. These two informed my first novel – Letters From A Fugitive’s Son. Many of Ernest Hemingway’s novels and short stories helped to shape my own language skills through his sparse, but accurate prose. Also, I crave to write with a sense of place like Laurie Lee. Contemporary fiction finds only a minor place on my bookshelves because there is so much great writing through the ages. I am just trying to catch up with Homer, Donne, Dickens, Twain, and all the rest. What I really mean to say is that I love writers who love the language and their stories more than I necessarily like the latest trends.
The interesting thing is that my photo influences have a profound impact on the things I write and my writing influences work with what I shoot. Don’t ask me to explain it. Hope this helps.
Laurie Carter: While I make part of my living as a magazine editor, I am a first and foremost a writer/photographer. For me, the two are inextricably entwined. When I photograph a subject, it is nearly always with an eye to complementing the written word; for a book or article already in progress or yet to be determined. Often my photographs help me to form the words, while the words I have in mind sometimes suggest the image I need to make. I also sell photographs separately to magazines and as fine art. I particularly enjoy the art images, as they give me an opportunity to experiment and develop my vision in the digital dark room.
I write with purpose, generally in the travel genre, though I started my career on mystery novels. My goal is always to inform as well as entertain and you’ll invariably get a history lesson when you read my work. Not surprisingly, I admire writers like Bill Bryson, Peter Mayle, Dona Leon and Michael Palin. Palin, in particular, who worked with brilliant photographer Basil Pao to create the companion volumes for his BBC documentaries, influenced the way I approached my current project, a trilogy about the travels and work of Emily Carr, titled Emily Carr’s B.C.
Emily herself is my greatest hero, for here is a peerless artist who also worked magic with the written word. Fully relevant today, her life forms a worthy role model for women, for artists, for writers, for anyone faced with the prospect of aging—yes, for us all. The other artists I most appreciate are Lawren Harris and Vincent Van Gogh (with whom Emily is frequently compared). I also greatly admire the contemporary work of photographer Edward Burtynsky and the pioneering work of photographer Geraldine Moodie.