Self Portrait # 1, 1996
July 4th 2014
An Open letter of thank you to those who truely illuminated the world for us all..
at a price, I suspect, few would be willing to pay today...for the same opportunity, with the same unknowns...
To all those who have participated, struggled, believed, never lost hope, did without, knows that Dektol is indeed a comfort scent, has experienced exhilaration in total darkness, lived on Hamburger Helper minus the hamburger cannot segregate vocation from avocation, and feels extremely fortunate to be able to allow voyeurism to become as satiating as any fine meal one could imagine.
Your contribution to photography's growing critical mass, is a remarkable and welcome evolution for what had been the stepchild to an established art world for the better part of what is still in its infancy when compared to the duration in which the traditional and accepted scholarly components of the art worlds empirical domination has been acknowledged, recognized and valuated. Hence the benchmark by which other visual language’s would be measured against. This was a most exclusive club...discluding a slowly emerging science which hid in the the shadow for 170ish years. Its autonomy did not occur without the support and care of a myriad of individuals and institutions. It’s importance and place slowly evolving...and with it the recognition and value deserving of the contribution provided by those who came before. Those of us who continue to rewrite and reconstruct a daily changing and mercurial body of information and nomenclature is taking us to places, and allowing us to do things that I doubt we have yet to anticipate. We have some very courageous hero’s to thank and always remember and most fortunately visit...through their work.
I have often believed that to make pictures which tie photographer and camera with a visceral, primal and palpable connectedness, is not driven by commercial bias nor ATM machine. One needs a special type of desire to want to seek the journey of wandering alone without compass...and be equally comfortable spending a disproportionate amount of one’s life alone in the dark. If you answered yes to both these questions...let me be the first to welcome you to neurotica. While its easy to forget the days when a vintage print was nothing more then a preservation of time and materials. The lack of a marketplace or acceptance by those who controlled and dictated what was and was not real art, did not include those who embraced still cameras. Stieglitz, Kertesz, Weston, Steichen, Strand, Atget, Cartier Bresson, The f/64 group, The New York School, The Photo secessionists, The Pictorialists, The FSA , The street urchins, Magnum to name just a few. And to those who taught us how wonderful it was to break the rules, and in doing so showed... that before us, lay and inexhaustible supply of opportunity. If one were ever to do some research, they would be surprised to find, while looking at the provenance and lineage of the work we collectively refer to as iconic, which created the context and framework that gave us our first inkling of not only credibility and a measure of value...but of the magic and beauty that remained to be captured and shared. I referred to the provenance to illustrate that one will notice that somewhere in that lineage, those photographs passed through the hands of the other picture makers whose images we equally revered. There was no marketplace for photography. These were explorers, without any clue or indication that even if they were to be successful, in their quest, they knew in their heart, there was very little to no likehood that one would ever be compensated for the work and their images they so deemed as fine art. So they traded within their own circles, or gave them as gifts to those who shared in the same sensibility. In return they were rewarded with a print in exchange. These were an extraordinary group of men and women who experienced a calling so deep within their chests at a time when unfortunately, it was more likely a guaranted ticket to the bread line, then the bank line.
Their value and place in history not realized until their passing. We are all in some way the beneficiary of those sacrifices. look forward with optimism, but look back often..be mindful of the struggles and discoveries, while being respectful, appreciative, and proud of the unique connection we share with such a lineage.The opportunity to construct, execute and share images, with more methods of delivery then ever before, regardless if the technology is analog, digital, alternative or a hybrid or a comingling of them all. Our visual vocabulary has forever been altered, and will continue to mutate as long as we continue to challenge it. The boundary and limits which act as containment, or levels beyond which something can or cannot extend or pass, has little chance of becoming the rule. We should all want to make a promise to ourselves to visit the works of those who came before and thank them, for giving us the opportunity to continue forward, exploring, and continuing our archaeological photographic dig...Which they commenced with nothing more than the equivalent of a stick and a bucket...aka, the antiquated equipment of the time.
My deepest thanks to them all for sharing, preserving, exploring, discovering, curating, exhibiting, authoring, educating, creating, supporting and participating in this ensemble cast that has contributed to moving the connection we all share a similar passion for.
From the back burner to the front. Keep digging kids... there is gold in them hills… or should I say silver...Keep making pix
digital vs. analog
I am often asked..Digital photography...It's so easy...I cant imagine a more misleading statement. The analog darkroom is as forgiving as the digital (twilight room) is unforgiving. What digital photography is...is, accessable.
Why cameras are the biggest impedimenrt to becoming a photographer
Did you ever notice how difficult it is to visualize the world while you were looking down? Did you ever stop and think about the technical muscle memory that must be innate and fluid so that active visualization can commence organically and fluidly. These two components need to happen simultaneously so that previsualization can occur and space, shape, texture, balance, tone, tension, range, symmetry or the lack thereof and your placement with respect to what it is you're going to capture is perfect...can occur. It's not going to happen if your twisting your lens barrel, working through the menu structure on the LED readout, interpreting histograms, determining your white balance, and if you're shooting film, deciding whether your ASA is appropriate for the lighting conditions in which you are shooting. Should you push your film? Should you pull it ? You don't have the luxury of Polaroids? Unless you have stored away inventory since their fall from grace. The point is a camera is distracting. If you don't know how to use it. Use every part of it, intuitively, instinctively, decisively, then and only then will you likely be successful when you take it out of its bag. It will become a speed bump to your success. You will spend more time playing with it then you will looking at the world and all the pictures that could have been. So learn your camera, understand the basic principles of exposure, why shutter speeds and f-stop are co–variable and relational. Understanding the premise of metering and 18% reflectance regardless of whether you shoot film (analog) or digital, is critical to an empirical understanding and acquiring the control that you seek when making expressive images. While the new math may have replace the old, it yielded the same answers. Don't be fooled by the bells and whistles of digital. There are three things you have to control and master. Exposure, which is a combination of shutter speed and f-stop, (or the size of your lens opening), and the accuracy of your light measurement. get these three things under control your cerebral muscle memory will form a core from which to move into more complex and challenging methods of becoming a photo alchimist.
A photographer anticipates his next capture, moving forward, searching for a yet to materialize, singular moment in which reality and context intersects for an instant, often seen only by the lens and shutter. The Defining Moment, such as those of Henri Cartier Bresson, whose images coined the term, are few and far between. With every shutter click results a new record of one's presence in a moment not just a random moment, but a unique moment. When picture maker and subject are viscerally and physically connected to one another they share equally in the moment of exposure. Often, they are assimilating different perspectives of the same occurrence. My work is part chronology of observation and part visit to the center of my moment.They are neither a glimpse backward nor forward. More aptly, they represent a look in the mirror on any random day, in any random place, where random things compel us to believe in alchemy as magic occurs.
Ansel Adams said "there are always two people in every photograph… The photographer and the viewer."
Observations of a professional Voyeur
Armed with nothing more then my Yashica rangefinder and a few rolls of bulk fed Tri-XFilm smuggled out of my high school darkroom, a connection was born - a connection so strong that to this day the thought of having to go without is cruel and unusual punishment. When asked what kind of pictures I make, I often reply, "Pictures about nothing." I start by looking where something isn’t…while being mindful of all that could be. Visual images which elicit emotions often do so by reaching inside us to places that are often hard to access, hard to articulate, hard to share, hard to hold, and, most significantly, hard to withhold. Expressive photography is language; it’s the language that commences when words do not adequately express a concept. In my cortex model of photography as language, light becomes the noun, texture the adjective, and verbs remain still. Cortextual assimilation replaces phonics assimilation. In published reviews my images have been called "quiet," "sparse," "reductionist," "layered," "symmetrical," and "organic". A fairly descriptive assortment of adjectives assembled to articulate what is a disparate body of work constructed over the last 30 years.
The last 15 years has been a period where the tools to assist in articulating visual conten thave never been more powerful and precise, or less forgiving. Thus, making the need for a consensus of thought as to how we revise, amend, and
implement what is quickly becoming known as New Media. Much like the new math which eventually replaced the old, New Media will require the learning or relearning of much of what was once universally accepted methodology for educators, artists, journalists, and others whose vocation intersects the traditional procedures and universally agreed upon theory for working in the analog world.
From silver to silicon, the joy of looking at, talking about, and making pictures grows exponentially with each and every new discovery lurking around the corner, or when one realizes that this particular new technology is perhaps as swift-moving and mercurial as it was just a moment ago relevant. When one realizes the frailty of the science that aids in elevating both art and language, The conclusion is clear and simple. Technology, for all of its positive virtues, generates as it main byproduct…obsolescence.
My personal journey is a search for a place where light reveals rather than obscures, visual chaos is silenced, and the moment is defined and preserved by nothing more than the whisper quiet click of my Leica’s shutter. The pure joy inherent in revisiting the moment contains a satisfaction that will never change, regardless of how rapidly the technology does. What remains constant for me is the confirmation of voice in expressive image making. My criterion is and continues to be whether or not the print executed is better then my mind's eye recall of its reality. This still remains the single, most compelling motivation I find making impossible any segregation of my vocation from avocation; they are one and the same. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I grab the dusty lightproof box regardless of its analog or digital orientation. In part, this indiscriminate use led to a hybrid image that, well-crafted, contains an inherent beauty not otherwise revealed. Often beginning as a negative and executed to print using today's digital tools, a myriad of media, inks, hardware and software options. The resulting product is a cross-pollination that produces a beautiful, fade-resistant, and stabile print. The commingling of analog and digital techniques yields a print where theory and practice find a harmonious co-existence. All digital cameras manufactured today include analog components, and, a well-exposed drum scan from a negative increases dynamic range beyond anything perceptibly seen in an analog print. It exceeds what would reasonably be expected from a print executed by a master printer in an analog darkroom environment. The digital process became the key to unlocking visual information and layers of texture in both subtle shadow and highlight detail that was always inherent in the negative though imperceptible and today allows for its transfer to print.
I am often asked...It's so easy now...I cant imagine a more misleading statement. The darkroom is as forgiving as the digital (twilight room) is unforgiving. What digital photography is...is...accessible.
Other then driving a car, no egalitarian pursuit has ever rivaled that of today's fascination with photography. A pursuit where a collective ideology shares in a similar satisfaction and joy when discovering they are responsible in making a serendipitous expressive picture, even if it is the result of an accident or good fortune. The works of those who have elevated voyeurism to craft, speak as the diction of a trained actor on Broadway, the voice of Andrea Bocelli, or the laughter elicited by the brilliance of the late George Carlin. Photography, indeed, has acquired its voice ….and a rather eclectic one. What photography does do best... is speak at a volume and clarity that is best consumed on a canvas of silence.