Early influences

…continued from “My early days of photography

With some formal education in photography in high school, I mastered the zone system and began to see photography as a creative medium for expression. I began to photograph light. I began to experiment with shadows and how they looked when they fell on objects. I began to see how light and shadow would give form to objects. I began to look for objects with form and texture to photograph. I began composing still life images. My subjects in photography evolved as my adventures as an adolescent took me to new experiences. As I began to date, my focus locked onto beauty. The experiences I felt manifest themselves in images as I tried to express myself in ways that words could not do. Through the time I graduated from high school my photographic style was, with few exceptions, the formal, classical style advocated in the teachings of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

Image by Jerry Uelsmann
Image by Jerry Uelsmann

At the University of Florida, I was exposed to a very different thinking about photography. Jerry Uelsmann was the head of the photography department and his avant-garde works were stirring up controversy across the planet. Uelsmann attracted other avante-garde photographers to the UF campus as guest lecturers and his influence manifest itself in the artistic works of photography students. Uelsmann’s imagery challenged us to explore our dreams to find subject matter buried in our subconscious mind. I was lucky enough to take photography electives and attend guest lectures during this unique period of photographic evolution.  Many of my images from this period are artistic nudes, abstracts, and architectural compositions. Although I never fully mastered the technical aspects of darkroom compositing, I did successfully experiment with sandwiching negatives, multiple exposure printing, solarized images, and abstraction through camera motion.  The darkroom techniques advanced by Uelsmann required tedious attention to detail and use of masks to create composite images. My big take away from this experience is that I learned “it is ok to experiment with the medium”. Today imaging software like Photoshop makes complex imaging relatively easy and opens the door for greater creative composition.

Very little of my work from the early years is still in existence. I believe all the negatives and most of the prints from this period have been lost or destroyed from poor storage conditions. A few images remain as framed art in my house. Some of my friends may still have signed prints which I gave them from my portfolio.

After graduating college until the commercialization of digital cameras, my passion for photography took a back seat to my business, career and family. I had no access to a darkroom so my photography shifted to color film and processing by local color labs. The few occasions in which I was able to pull out my camera was limited to family vacations and impatient subjects. My work during this time period reverted back to landscape photography and occasionally some informal family portraits. The most obvious work in the ensuing 20+ years was the annual family portrait for Christmas card mailings and travel photography.

Next – “Resurrection from the ashes