About the photography
It is difficult, if not impossible, to ever really know a great city, and comprehend in all their nuances its social, political, and economic complexities. While these are areas worthy of interest and investigation, I prefer to treat the urban environment as primarily a visual experience. Keeping a clear mind and open to impressions, I realize there are always new and varied photographic opportunities. Without an agenda, or pre-conceived theories to prove, I am free to look for the pieces that add up to the story of people living in an architectural and social environment.
I was fortunate to begin photography in the 1960's. This was a golden age, with the growing acceptance of photography as an art and a technical high point in equipment and materials. Exhibitions, books, and educational opportunities appeared, plus historic, outdated, but beautiful processes were rediscovered and made available again. I have never forgotten the feel, style, or mood of this period, never opting for faster, simpler, or cheaper methods. I try not to be part of the present, and imitate what is current, but strive to understand and appreciate the qualities of the past, in frame of mind and technical expertise.
As a form of communication, a photograph or any work of art more or less reflects the personality of the maker. Awareness of and truth to stylistic characteristics that have been determined by deep personal traits, and the confidence that your viewpoint is worth sharing with others, must be coupled with superb technical ability. Composition, form, tonal balance, and relationships of objects must be sure. Knowledge of the history of photography can teach valuable lessons while at the same time encourage wariness of imitation. Motivation and ideas should be combined with empathy for the viewer’s own lives and responses to everyday life. Real observation, combined with visually interesting information help people remember and identify with events and locations. I try to avoid the common, obvious, and simple, preferring a quiet contemplation, layers of meaning, and a slow solving of the visual puzzle, while still maintaining clarity and a confident decisiveness. Working unobtrusively, and quietly, I prepare by considering the general situation, weather, season, and time of day before choosing format and materials. I make very few photos of my subject, many times only one.
All my photographs are made with traditional silver-based materials and processes by myself. The difficulty and cost is offset by the satisfaction of creating with one's own hands prints from materials offering a wide range of creative flexibility, and of outstanding beauty, quality, and permanence.
Essentially, art must elicit a personal response. It is a framework for an understanding, going beyond the eye, to the mind; it must be lived, and have a sense of story beyond the obvious. In urban settings, and with all my photography, I try to accurately record my impressions, hopefully enabling the viewer to share, enjoy, and experience what I’ve seen and felt.