f i n e a r t p h o t o g r a p h y
As a kid, way back before electronics and computers captured the imaginations of youth, I pursued various hobbies to satisfy my desire to discover things. As a college student I bought my first camera to document a study tour through the Soviet Union. On that trip I became enthralled with the process of picture taking and discovered a hobby that would become my life’s work and passion. In my final college semester I took a basic camera handling and darkroom course. By a stroke of fate, a geography professor in my chosen major had a passion for fine art photography. I credit him with steering my interest in that direction. I never had any formal art instruction but I did have instinctive abilities in visual editing and composition. I quickly grasped the power of photography as a means of expression, both as an art form and as the primary documenting media of the human experience. I felt the need to be a small part of that by sharing the beauty that I saw in the world around me.
What I like most about photography is its underpinning in reality. What I present in a photograph is my recognition of a slice of life moment when reality actually took the form of my photograph. Its value as a work of art depends on the strength of any connection made with the viewer. A minor work may offer nothing more than a passing curiosity while a strong piece can arouse deep feelings in many viewers. For me photography is an intuitive process of vision and discovery, while seeking a compositional order through the lens of my camera. The ways in which I accomplish that defines my style. I am always working to distill the essence of what I sense in the subject before my camera, and this often leads to a tightly composed, small part of the whole subject.
Through the years there has been a gradual progression and narrowing of focus in my work starting with black and white nature and landscape photographs, color landscape, architectural and nautical details and now my current work with equine figure studies. I have always found inspiration in the challenge of working with new subjects. When I feel that I have not much more to say in a body of work, moving to a fresh subject helps to get the creative juices flowing again. Over time the skills that I have developed have given me the confidence that focusing on new subjects will lead to another successful body of work. I am often told by people that have followed the progression of my work through the years that my style is always recognizable to them in whatever subject I am working with.
My current work with horses has been the most challenging photography that I have done to date, and the resulting images have also been the most artistically satisfying to me. The difficulty has been working with a subject that does not take direction and which I have very little control over. I really knew little about horses when starting this series but always felt a keen appreciation for the beauty of the equine form. My original concept was to produce a series of close up figure studies that portray the sculptural and sensual qualities of the horse. Fortunately I quickly developed an easy, calm rapport with horses and this has allowed me to work up close to make my photographs. Even though they do not take direction, a sense of trust often leads to the animal revealing an aspect of their personality that can result in a successful photograph.
For many years I worked exclusively with a 4x5 view camera and made color prints in my traditional color darkroom from the large format color negatives. I am now working with a digital camera to record the images, and use a film recorder to transfer the image files back onto color internegative film. This allows me to make traditional color prints on photo paper in my darkroom. I was a late convert to digital imaging and I really appreciate the freedom working with a digital camera gives me. However, as a matter of personal preference I do not care for the look of ink sprayed on paper and much prefer the depth of images that are embedded in the surface of traditional color prints.