High definition and sumptuous color are the immediate impressions of Ray Hartl's photographs. Often mistaken for paintings, this body of work is the result of extensive travels through villages in Mexico, Guatemala, and Europe.
His dedication to the 4X5 view camera as a creative tool lends itself to a slower, more thoughtful approach to the medium. The results are carefully balanced and composed photographs where color, line, and form are equally emphasized.
"My photographs are object oriented and deal with the surface of reality. I am primarily interested in how man structures and decorates his environment and how this integrates with the natural landscape. My earliest photographs were an attempt to capture the seductive beauty that I felt in nature. As this sensitivity developed, so did appreciation for how man strives to bring a sense of order and beauty to his environment."
"My compositions involve an often intense struggle with the inevitable complexities of a scene in order to present the simple essence of whatever has caught my interest. The result is a decisively narrow, simplified portrayal using only the elements of color, texture, and line."
Hartl views his architectural work as a collaboration. "I am involved in the restating of reality, a reinterpretation of that which has already been created by anonymous individuals. I feel my best work moves beyond the decorative to portray a beauty of the human spirit."
His recent landscape photographs represent a departure from earlier efforts. Rather than relying solely on the sharp detailing of the 4X5 camera to depict a scene, selective softening and other darkroom techniques are increasingly employed. "Recently I have felt that a straight technique often did not convey the mood or impressions that I remembered experiencing when taking a photograph. Through the use of darkroom manipulations, I am able to make images that are somewhat impressionistic and more true to my initial vision."