Joe Dudeck has been a friend for a near decade now, but only in more recent years have I come to know Joe’s passion as a photographer. (I have him to thank for the lush landscape of green I have as my header image.)
I think both Joe and I have traveled artistic calling like a windy, country road – he as a photographer, I as a writer. With a will to see, we headed somewhere: without landmarks, without a clear sense of destination, only knowing the deep desire to follow the curves where they led.
Perhaps that is always how calling feels: unplanned, unscripted, serendipitous even. But the goading, the persistent goading, it is behind you. The lens. The pen. You pick it up – you must – because you cannot lay down the desire to make sense of something, even of yourself.
I have wanted to collaborate with Joe here on the blog for sometime, and of course my ambitions and plans for this have outpaced my real capacity. But I do intend, in the days ahead, to use more of Joe’s images in some words that I’ve been wanting to write.
First, however, I want to introduce you to Joe.
Joe, tell us about the journey into your artistic calling.
I think there are some people who know their calling from birth. I wasn’t one of those people. God either took awhile to give me this call or it took me a long time to hear it. I wasn’t exceptional in art class. I didn’t wear uber creative clothes growing up. I didn’t walk around with a lens in my pocket, constantly framing out shots.
I think my first true photo session took place when I was 25. I had a Kodak Advantix camera, and I went to a graveyard near my apartment to catch the sunrise. The session was ok. I didn’t walk away from it proclaiming, with fist in air, “I must do this the rest of my life!” In fact, it took another five years before I really started capturing and selling my photographs. But I’m sure some internal switch was flipped that day and over time it naturally developed into the passion it is today.
When you are pointing your lens, what are you looking to find and capture?
I’m looking to start a story for someone. In much of my work you’ll see just a small piece or one element of a bigger scene. So you may see a flower, but not the whole flower bed. And you’ll see a door, but not the entire house. A tree trunk but not a forest.
And what’s so interesting to me is that the story that I may compose by capturing an image may be vastly different than the story you compose by seeing that same image. So I may look at a door and create an entire storyline about the type of building that door’s attached to, what’s inside the building, what people reside inside, etc. And your story may be nothing like that. And that’s awesome.
As an artist, what do you most hope to achieve with your work?
I hope to inspire people to notice the beauty all around them, and particularly the beauty in the “unbeautiful.” There’s obvious awe-inspiring beauty in a sunset or a rainbow. But, to me, there’s equal beauty in the way paint chips and fades over time. Or the well-chiseled laugh lines on a well-worn face. Or the way short shadows grow long throughout the day. There’s beauty all around…we just have to look. I loved what John Muir said: “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”
From what do you draw inspiration? In other words, what helps you, as a photographer, to see?
My religious upbringing tells me to “insert God answer here.” But really, I’ve found no other answer. I’ve come to personally believe that God created me, the world around me, and any gifts I may have to catch and capture what I see. He’s also given me a strong interest to share those moments with others. To tell a story through pictures…my story and the stories I see around me. And hopefully my photographs do justice to the things I see.
Check out Joe’s work at his website. And if you’re in the Midwest, Joe would be just the person to hire to shoot your new family portrait, professional headshot, or wedding pictures.