This page is here to tell you a bit about me and some of my philosophies. There is probably more to know than what is written below, but how much do you really want to read.
When I read biographies of various photographers on the internet and other places, it seems as though they all started from the age of 3 with a camera in their hand and photography has been their one and only passion in life. I guess this may be true in some cases but I always find it somewhat difficult to believe.
Growing up in Southern Illinois in the 1950s, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the artistic beauty around me. Let alone, how I could capture this on film. I did spend time camping, hiking and just generally being outdoors. I guess I have always had a great love and appreciation of the outdoors and the environment around me. Though in my earlier years this was often expressed by throwing rocks in streams or over cliffs to hear them hit the ground below. (I know not the best thing to do, but when you’re 10 years old…..).
I did receive my first camera when I was 7 (Brownie Six-20), given to me by a neighbor. I remember being very intrigued as how this small black box could take pictures. (We only called them pictures back then, photographs was way too big a word and images just sounded to formal). It wasn’t easy in those days to find the money to purchase film and have it processed, though I still have a few of the photos. I eventually decided the real challenge was to take the camera apart just to see how it worked. Sure wish I had that camera today, but I could probably say that about many things.
In 1958 my parents purchased the hottest camera going (Polaroid B&W), now this was truly magic. (This one I still have today) In high school I became the photographer for the high school newspaper. I think this was because I had the camera and no one else was interested in the job. The photos were dismal, but did I mention no one else wanted the job and it got me out of class.
Next came college (engineering, kinda explains why I like to take things apart and see how they work). Then career and family. None of these things left much time for the artistic pursuit of photography. Though through the years I’ve certainly had my share of 35mm, medium format and now digital cameras.
While I have been a serious photographer for 30 years, it’s only been the last 10 years, that I have actually been able to devote quite a bit of time to the art of photography. This is in part due to the advent of digital image capture and processing. I sold my last film camera in 2004, though I often miss the use of film.
My view of the world has significantly changed over the last 20 years, that in part can be attributed to moving to the desert southwest (Phoenix, Arizona). While I still spend quite a bit of time hiking and camping, it is now because I am in awe of the beauty and environment around me. While not an environmentalist (you know the folks that think people should be banned from almost every place wonderful), I do respect the environment and believe in protecting it.
I believe each and every image I capture is an instant in time that can never be recreated and is of value it it’s own right, whether it is of any artistic value or not. To this end (and some believe I’m silly), I keep every photograph I take even if I know many will never be used.
Entering the natural landscape, whether it be desert and Canyons or Forests, trees, Rivers and Streams is a magical experience. We are here for only a short time, but the beauty of the landscape is everlasting. I am drawn to the serenity and slowness of time in these settings and attempt to convey this feeling with my images.
My images are predominately landscapes of the American Southwest, original photographs taken over the past 30 years. The equipment has evolved over time and has progressed from 35mm film to medium format film and now digital capture. Negatives and transparencies are scanned on a high quality drum scanner to produce a digital negative. Each digital negative is then processed on a computer, the image development can take between a few hours to several days. All image files are cataloged and recorded for long term storage. I currently have catalogued over 26,000 images.
Selected images are printed on either premium quality photo paper or canvas. Prints are mounted on acid free archival foam core board and matted using pH neutral mat. Canvases are printed directly on poly-cotton archival certified canvas. Each canvas is then sprayed with a canvas varnish to provide UV and contamination protection. After several days of drying time the canvas is then stretched over 1 1/2" gallery bars to produce the final ready to hang image.
I complete each step of the process entirely myself at our studio in Phoenix using no employees or assistants, This way I can control the quality of the finished art work.
I am often asked when someone is viewing one of my photographs, “Wow, that is really great how did you enhance it?” This is always bothersome to me, because I always take great care to try and produce a photograph that represents what I saw at the time.
The fact is we see in three dimensions and have a very wide field of view. Photographs don’t work this way. First a photograph is only two dimensions and can never reveal the grandeur that we perceive with our own eyes. If you don’t believe me, go to the Grand Canyon, look at the view, photograph the scene and when you return home look at the photograph. It will never convey the feeling of what you saw.
A camera will capture a scene (light, color, focus) using technology that will never equal the capabilities of the human eye. Post processing of photographs whether it be in a wet darkroom with chemicals, enlarger and light sensitive paper for prints, or digital image processing with Photoshop and printing on a digital printer, will never equal the processing capabilities of the human brain. You have never seen a photograph that has not been manipulated is some way. So the answer to the question above is ‘Yes, every photograph I produce has been enhanced and modified in some way.”
In every case, I only process an image to try and convey what I saw in my mind and what I felt while taking the photograph. Nothing more, nothing less.Photography is after all an art form.
In the world of digital photography today, it is fairly easy to add clouds to a sky, remove people or other objects from the sceen. While ther may very well be a place for this in the world of 'Digital Art', I do not believe one should describe their work as 'Orignal Photographs'.
Another item of great debate is the ethics used in creating a photograph. Every person must come to grips with what they consider ethical. An example that is often used, “You come across the perfect scene and there is a discarded beer can lying in the foreground, do you remove it or not”. You would be surprised how heated the arguments are that arise from this simple question. In my case the answer is easy, yes I would remove the beer can.
The issue is however a matter of degree, I personally would not move a rock, chop down a tree or shrub.
In the desert Southwest we often come across what is called ‘Cryptobiotic Soil’ which is the living soil crust containing bacteria that hold the soil in place, even walking lightly on this soil can take decades for the soil to recover. Do you walk across this delicate soil for the perfect photograph?
Respect the boundaries, respect the rules.
There is a line to be drawn on how far a photographer is willing to go in the pursuit of their subjects and their behavior towards them, as well as courtesy to others.