I'm sure every photographer is influenced by many other photographer's work, either consciously, or sub-consciously. This is certainly true for me, and without doubt the person who has had the greatest influence over my approach to photography has been someone I never actually met, Galen Rowell. It was through reading his many books, and viewing a video and DVD that he created, that I gained a great deal of insight into his method of capturing the superb images he did in such abundance. I doubt there is any other photographer who has so thoroughly analyzed and put into writing their approach to photography, as did Galen Rowell. He held nothing back, which is a sign of a true professional, who had no fear of revealing all about his trade. During my various trips to California, I always made a point of visiting his superb gallery in Bishop, which is still in full swing, despite his untimely death a few years ago.
I learnt from Galen's writings that the essence of photography is seeing, and that is what really differentiates one photographer's work from another. I will always remember a quote he borrowed from the Dalai Lama, which was "Many people look, but very few see", and it is so true, not just in photography, but in all aspects of everyday life. Galen Rowell was a photographer who I have nothing but the highest respect for, and even though we never met, through reading so many of his books and magazine articles, I still feel I knew him in a way, and have some connection with him and his work. He proved that great images are not the result of format nor type of equipment used, but by being in the right place, at the right time, and learning to really see and distinguish what is important from the unimportant. Sure there are many technical aspects to be mastered, but seeing and visualization are the real keys to great picture creation.
My photography started out as a mild interest and hobby, but has grown to be my full-time profession, and probably obsession. I don't regard myself as being a great wordsmith, and so I try to use my images to convey how I see the beauty in things. As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words".