Eagle photographer is inspired by ‘luck of the light’ moments
Mike Crabtree owes a lot to a horse. It was nearly five years ago on a snowy, winter day that Crabtree took what has become his signature photograph a black horse stands in a snow-covered field with a striking red barn in the background.
It was just one of those moments it was a pretty good snowstorm, the light was just right, and that horse was where it is. Its one of those pictures that keeps giving. Over the years Crabtree has sold a lot of prints of that particular photograph. He blows it up to 24-inches by 34-inches and frames it I have a hard time keeping that one in the gallery, he said.Crabtree is showing a collection of his photography at the Vail Librarys community room through Feb. 15. He recently took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
Mike Crabtree: Photography is my means of support and a most enjoyable way to make a living except for the starving artist moments that can come and go, but, by and large, I enjoy my work.
MC: A neighbor, an older woman, gave me a Baby Browny camera when I was on leave from the Navy back in 1966. It added a new dimension to my travels and I enjoyed the excitement of looking for photo ops. I got good feedback and encouragement from friends that viewed my pictures and that kind of planted the seeds to maybe one day make this my work.
MC: What I mentioned earlier, people, places and things inspire me to create. Like my American Express card I dont leave home without it, that is my camera. Having it with me can turn a mundane trip into an adventure. I find that there is art and inspiration everywhere and you really become more aware of your surroundings. I like to listen to classical music pieces that sometimes free me up as well maybe some Dylan lyrics on life. Sweet light gets my juices flowing. The first couple of hours and last couple of hours of light can oftentimes do magic to otherwise uninspiring landscapes. I call this the luck of the light moments that make you feel thankful to be there at that time and that place to behold the artistry of our Creator and capture it so that you can freeze that moment in time and share it with those who can appreciate it. I think that is the essence of photography. We all have our own way of seeing things and photography gives you the medium to express how you visualize life. I also like to study other artists style. What is it that makes this image hard to leave? Where is the light coming from? What is the focal point? Why does this image have such great movement?
MC: I chose photography because it is real and it allows you to put your own spin on what you see. It is like a window into my heart that I can share and hopefully inspire others to take a closer look at life and their environment and perhaps even bring them a peaceful moment in this crazy world we live in.
MC: My style with people is to try and capture that inner person that moment of inhibition that speaks to what makes them who they are. It is very exciting to me to try and capture people candidly and catch the character in them. When I look for landscapes I like the dynamic light and a fresh perspective of what Im studying. I try to be as deliberate as I can and keep asking myself what is turning me on in what I am viewing and refining and simplifying what artistic statement Im trying to make. Sometimes you have to work at getting out of the snapshot mode. I love looking for the abstract, too. Its exciting to discover things that arent obvious to the casual observer.
MC: Id love to have known Van Gogh. You can feel his brilliant insanity in his work. His brush strokes and style and color are so unique and fresh. He is inspiring. He makes you feel like trying something new, casting off the inhibitions that free you from mediocrity.
MC: I was given a painting by my friend Jon Suh, a Korean portrait and still life artist, that I continue to get pleasure from. It is a still life of a vase with several roses and peaches in the foreground and a mountain scape in the background. (Its) very abstract and a perfect composition.Visit http://www.crabphoto.com or Crabtree Gallery at 17683 Highway 6&24 in Eagle (about an eighth of a mile east of the roundabout) for more information.