Sunday, May 31, 2009

Personal Influences Part 2B

Many years ago I founded the photography group INVISION. The idea was to form a group of photographers that would support each other and, as a group, occasionally exhibit our photography. Thanks to that loosely formed organization I was fortunate to make friends with a group of folks that, in various ways, have influenced my perspective, understanding and appreciation of photography. Recently we had a casual reunion of sorts and have hopefully started the process of renewal. Here are some brief comments about these talented people.

Dale Bernstein - Dale is an incredibly accomplished photographer. His understanding and control of his craft and and how he applies that craft to making creative images is inspiring. Using some of the most difficult photographic processes, such as daguerreotype, ambrotype and wetplate collodion, Dale has produced amazing images. His ability to expertly combine all of the elements that he chooses to make an expressive image led me to think more deeply about the entire process of making a picture.

Dale printed and assisted for several of history's greatest contemporary photographers - Avedon, Penn, Horst. He has always been willing to share stories, etc. about working with these great photographers thereby giving insight into the creative process of a world that I can only imagine.

Stephen Rose - Steve was a professor of photography in Boston and has been a dealer of fine photography for many years. Steve's understanding of photography is on a plane far above mine. His perspective, comments and observations, to this day, cause me to evaluate my views and look deeper into many aspects of photography. Steve also makes excellent photographs. Studying the images that he produces, realizing his vast understanding of the art form, is always interesting and makes me realize that making an image should be a very personal thing rather than an impersonal amalgamation of what one has learned and studied.

Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. - It's really hard to know where to start with Denis regarding his influence on my work. Is it his incredibly warm, welcoming and friendly personality, his unflagging dedication to his vision and art, his willingness to share? With Denis, all of these elements are parts of the entire package.

Denis has traveled the world making wonderful photographs capturing the essence and spirit of his objects of discovery and study. Trying to find words to adequately describe Denis' work is beyond my limited writing capability. At this time he is installing his large format, multi-media exhibit, "Holy Lands, Journeys of a Pilgrim Artist" at his alma mater, Wabash College. He is presenting a colloquium on Friday the 5th of June at 1:00PM in Hayes Hall.

Part 2B, about Invision members Mike and Karen Stroup, and Ted Orland, will continue very soon in a future post.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two books now available

We have made two books available for purchase from Blurb's bookstore - Sunset Junque Shop and Perspectives of Intent. Information is in the right hand column just below the Clowes Hall exhibit notice. Creating these books was a labor of love and we are pleased to be able to now offer them for purchase. If you have any questions contact me at

Putting it all together

Satch and I are in the final phase of getting the work finalized for the Clowes Hall exhibit. The house has turned into one big studio and as one can see in the photo, the kitchen has been converted one of the main work areas. This is an exciting time for us and it's fun to see the last year's worth of work come together. BTW, Satch's work is pretty amazing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Influences Pt. 2A - David Michael Kennedy

The photograph at the left is by David Michael Kennedy and is titled Tres Tecolotes from June, 1988.

I am the fortunate recipient of so many personal influences that it is going to be difficult to discuss them in a brief manner. Many of the influences go back many years and are complex. Maybe the best way to accomplish this self ascribed task is a list of sorts, in no particular order. There will be more than one installment of part 2.

This is part 2A -
David Michael Kennedy

Where to begin... at the beginning! - I knew some of David's photography long before I met him. His 1975 landscape photograph for Springsteen's Nebraska album cover perfectly set the stage for the music on arguably Springsteen's greatest LP. The photographs inside the album, and the ones used for promotion of the album, revealed Springsteen stripped away of any corporate packaging. But I had no clue about who was David Michael Kennedy.

Satch and I were in New Mexico sometime in the late 1980's, probably 1988, and stopped in Madrid on the way to Santa Fe. At the Madrid Supply Company we saw some amazing photographs by David Michael Kennedy. Printed in palladium, the prints were beautiful. The light was perfectly captured in all of the photographs. And there were photographs of Springsteen from the Nebraska session. Aha!

When in Santa Fe we went to Andrew Smith's Gallery and, to our surprise, we were able to view many more of David's photographs as a big exhibit of his work was going up. (Ask Satch about the Snow Owls). We simply loved everything about the photographs.

The next day we headed out to the Santa Fe Flea Market - which at that time was incredible - and while winding our way through all of the amazing stuff we happened upon a bunch of David's photographs spread out on a door that was supported by a couple of sawhorses. These photographs were silver prints rather than the palladium prints that we had viewed at Madrid Supply and Andrew Smith's. David's former wife, Lucy, was selling work prints to make some money. We were in heaven. Being of modest means we actually found some photographs of David's that we could afford! Among others that we purchased that day were a portrait of Bob Dylan and an outtake from the Nebraska session. We were on cloud 9 and pretty much hooked.

That same evening, at Andrew Smith's, there was an opening reception for an exhibit of David's work. We went but I was too nervous to actually talk to David, I mean, c'mon, he photographed Springsteen for Nebraska, which was pure magic for a Springsteen freak like me - AND he photographed Dylan in a way that I had never seen - I wouldn't have the nerve to actually talk to him. After a while Satch broke the ice. Like I said, ask her about the Snow Owls photograph. We had a nice short conversation which led us to keeping in touch over the years of triumphs and tribulations.

David's body of work is nothing short of incredible. His photographs of Native American dancers, portraits and landscapes show the versatility, compassion, sympathy and expertise of his artistry and his craft.

Over the years there are many, many things that I have learned from David while viewing and appreciating his work.

His use of light in combination with the composition of a subject is something that I never tire of.

David's understanding and skillful use of his tools and materials to present his work completes his vision.

His dedication to what he is artistically pursuing is something to behold. Overcoming tribal politics, his amazing portfolio of photographs of the Eight Northern Pueblo Dancers took a constant effort of seven years. His most recent project, traveling the back roads of the United State for two years in a vintage Airstream camper, photographing a large part of my country that is mostly unseen, and maybe even forgotten, has produced an incredible body of work.

Last year in a telephone conversation, while Satch and I were in Chicago, David encouraged me to try the Holga. I had been using a Diana+ which I still love for multiple exposures. Immediately upon returning home I purchased a Holga which has been my camera of choice from that point on. The Holga was the key for which I had been searching for many years.

After coming off of the road and a couple of brief detours, David now lives in El Rito New Mexico. I really do encourage anyone reading this blog to take the time to delve into David's work and story on his website. Photographers and fans of great photography will find many articles, photographs and excellent information. And, the blog of his two year road trip, well I've used enough superlatives - when you dig into it, you'll understand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finished Printing

Well, the photographs for the Clowes Hall exhibit are finally printed (only a very little spotting to be done). We had a couple of problems with the printer grabbing the print surface and leaving kind of a tread mark. After a few tweaks and a little good Karma everything turned out great.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Printing and Influences Pt. 1

Printing for the Clowes Hall exhibit has begun. It's going to be exciting to put the entire exhibit together on the frames made by Satch's brother, Ed Satchwill II. (click on photograph to enlarge - made in Michigan)

I mentioned earlier that I would post something about my influences. In two parts I'm going to briefly write about photographers and others who have had an impact on my work. It's not easy for me to put into words much of what I feel about this subject, but here goes...

The spirituality of Minor White's photographs is what tripped a switch inside of my brain that photography could transcend the simple recording of a scene. He was able to combine Ansel Adams' Zone System with the idea of equivalence as put forth by Stieglitz. Minor has an exceptional ability to see past the obvious of his environment and record scenes and portraits within exceptional light that reflected memories and the elusive inner spirit.

From a letter to Ansel Adams (May 17, 1964 Rochester, NY):

Semantically I make or accept and try to understand the esoteric use of the word Life and the opposite word Spirit. The first refers to all of nature and man that meets my senses both inner and outer, and which I am born into and also an CAUGHT in. On one hand it is to be avoided, and on the other hand it is all I have by which to encounter the seed of Spirit. The world of Spirit is practically unknown to me, maybe the tiniest speck has been seen, and it is quite different than Life, very different, to my state it seems quite the opposite.

In this preface to an unknown manuscript (1964 Rochester NY) Minor writes about Equivalence:

Equivalence - Recollections of the past with love balanced the greed. And I have blessed the metamorphosing power of camera because it thereby yields images corresponding to my memories of things past. Equivalence grew out of this. Equivalence in camera whereby the invisible is made visible to the intuition, the invisible organic, the invisible spirit.

Below are two examples of Minor White's work:

Seeing Robert Franks's original prints from the "The Americans" at IMA last year reaffirmed my view that photographs can transcend simple documentation.

Other photographers whose work I admire: Paul Caponigro, Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Paul Strand (esp. his work in New Mexico and his garden in Orgeval, France), Stieglitz, William Christenberry and many others.

The best advice that I have read:

“Concern yourself not with the question whether the medium of photography is art. The question is dated and absurd to begin with. You are art or not; what you produce is or isn’t. And don’t think about that either, just do, act.”

William Christenberry

In part two I will write about personal friends that have influenced my work.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Clowes Exhibit Printing - Close...

The painstaking process of dust removal from the digital files is nearly complete and printing of the exhibit should start tomorrow. I don't want to post the entire Clowes exhibit online as I'd like there to be a surprise or two for those who come to see the finished framed prints. That being said today I'm posting one of the major images from the exhibit as a preview.

Today's image was made in Nashville, Indiana. It is a multiple exposure of elements within a small area, including the sky. If I remember correctly, this is a combination of five or six exposures.

The Diana+ broke just minutes after the image was exposed. We were able to superglue it back together thanks to the help of a nice local lady. Since then it has broken again and has been agressively re-superglued. I'm hoping that the camera holds together as I really love the quality of image that comes from the plastic lens.

I hope to make a post about those that have influenced my photography in the next week, if time permits...

(click on photograph to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Last Photo From MI

This is the last photograph that will be posted from the recent quick trip to Michigan. It is a multiple exposure and was made in Harbert.

(click on the photograph to enlarge)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lake Michigan

From this past Wednesday, another photograph of Lake Michigan.

(click on the photo to enlarge)

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Spending a couple of quick days up in Michigan this past week I had a chance to make a few photographs. Here is one of Lake Michigan.

(click on photo to enlarge)