First and foremost, I am a photographer. We’re a different breed as we see things differently than other people. Photographers view the world through the literally through the lens. Instead of looking at a visual scene for what it is, photographers are viewing from an artistic perspective. Composition, lighting and technical aspects are being calculated in the subconscious as we use our eyes. It takes years for this transformation to take place as our eyes train the neuro pathways in our brains, or is it the other way around…
My photographic journey began in the 7th grade when I first experienced the chemical smell of the darkroom, and the magic of watching a print begin to appear in the tray of black and white developer. I’ve been hooked ever since. At the time, I proceeded to photograph anything I could. A 35mm rangefinder was my first tool, then I graduated to a Konica Autoreflex T that my father purchased for me for my high school graduation. I still have that camera and all its fine prime lenses to this day. I wouldn’t sell the outfit for all the tea in China.
I proceeded to major in photography through college. To help pay my way through school, I worked managing the darkroom in the art department. That gave me some extra time honing my technical skills. I spent countless hours instructing students how to feed a roll of 35mm black and white film on a spool, and develop the film. I became an expert in the use of the Beseler 23c photographic enlarger to the point where I could disassemble one and reassemble it blindfolded in under 2 minutes. Spending those years in the darkroom with chemical vapors in the air and no ventilation really inflicted the peyote effect, and made me go bald too. I really do miss those days, and my hair.
My main subject matter at the time was black and white urban scenes. Those images, some of which I still have were actually very good fine art by today’s terms. I didn’t realize it back then, but I was on to something that would help form my body of work that is in process to this day. I graduated to color, specifically Fuji Velvia for a long period shooting purist color landscapes. No human element included. I spent almost 15 years shooting the color of nature with the finest 35mm film ever developed. Many of those landscape images, mostly taken in northern Michigan are staples in my portfolio today.
In the past 10 years since switching to pure digital photography, a good deal of my work has been spent enhancing my nature and landscape portfolios. I always shoot in color, but I process my images in both black and white and color. I decide B&W or color based on the composition. I’ve dived into portrait photography and have even shot weddings from time to time. A good part of my body of work includes flowers, abstracts, color studies, digital infrared and urban scenes, mainly abandoned industrial buildings and burned out homes in the city of Detroit.
I’ve recently published my first “portfolio” book, Autumn in the Hills
. The book includes 50 color images of autumn’s color change in the “Hills” area of Oakland County, Michigan. The project serves as a good example to my students that you don’t have to travel a long way from home to capture worthy images. All photographs in this book were taken within 10 miles of my home. It is the 6th book of 7 I’ve had published since 2005, with a few more in the works.Current Photographic Project
I’m concurrently adding chosen images to a number of portfolios at any one time, but there is usually a project or two that takes precedence. Case in point, currently I’m working on a book of images from my urban color portfolio. Not even half way there, I still have to shoot images for a time frame that only will be determined by how long it takes for me to have about 120 images worthy of publishing in a photography book. and accompanied website. I have been adding to my “urban color” portfolio off and on for a few years, driving into the city for photography of abandoned structures. There are plenty of abandoned structures in my city, Detroit. The decay has been happening for years now. The result is an almost post-apocalyptic area that is difficult to describe, but easier to explain with the aid of photography.
My project will be completed later this year, and as the weather improves my shooting will increase. The project isn’t about making a social commentary actually. I’m a nature photographer most of the time, however watching decay happen before our own eyes in the city I’ve lived my entire life can’t be ignored. The images are there, and I have to take them. I’m a photographer, and this city needs to be photographed and displayed for all to discover.Photographic Influences
Many photographers were originally turned on to the art by becoming enamored with other photographers work. My guiding principal is similar. I think photographers need to constantly learn from viewing the work of others. I have always spent a lot of time viewing others work, some famous, some not so famous. Over the course of 30 years, there have been a few photographers that stand out as being influential in my own photography.
The first professional photographer I really had exposure to, and this name isn’t going to surprise, is Ansel Adams
. I first experienced Adams work in the mid-1970’s. I attended a gallery reception with my high school photography club at an art gallery in Birmingham, Michigan. Ansel was in attendance. I was blown away by his work, but even more impressed with his mastery of composition, exposure, and tone. I had never seen more beautiful photographic work displayed in a gallery before, and I haven’t seen anything like it since. It’s a shame for me, that I didn’t realize then how much of a legend he was going to become, I would have liked to say “thank you”.
Another photographer that has influenced me is Pete Turner
. Turner has influenced my work, primarily because of his interpretation of color. I’ve been reading articles about Pete and viewing his growing portfolios for about 25 years now. I’ve never met Pete, but his work sure showed me something about color.Eliot Porter
is another source of inspiration for my personal work. Porter was born in 1901 in Chicago, and is the brother of realist artist Fairfield Porter. Originally a biochemical researcher at Harvard and earning a medical degree, Porter soon took to photography. Working with photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams in the 1930’s, beginning his photographic career as a black and white photographer, Porter changed direction toward color photography, which at that time until the 1960’s was not considered a true photographic art form. Porter has inspired me primarily for his color work on tree’s. Breaking all photographic rules, and just producing photographs of tree’s with no central object of composition. I’m often criticized for this part of my body of work, and have to remind people that Eliot Porter did this in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Porter is best known for his Sierra Club published book In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World
. My inspiration comes from his subsequent portfolios Glen Canyon, Adirondacks and Maine. You can definitely see his influence in my book Autumn in the Hills