My goal is to make images that capture the essence of the world around us. Over 4 decades, I have developed a style that helps me create the most essential images that I can. In that time, I have used view cameras in 8×10 inch and 4×5 inch, reflex cameras in 6×9 cm, 35 mm, and, more recently digital formats.
When I started out, I was fortunate to have a mentor and teacher who encouraged me when needed and grounded me when required. Her highest praise was “that’s not bad” more often she would offer “that’s garbage” in her Bavarian accent. I valued her observation and insight, she knew that I needed to know what made a good photograph and how to achieve a great one. Those lessons were well learned.
In my formative years I worked in my mentor’s store, studio, and darkroom. I sold cameras, I set up and shot studio sessions and weddings, I processed countless negatives, and made mountains of prints. In that time I was witness to some strikingly beautiful images, and some that I had a difficult time forgetting for entirely other reasons. Sometimes the two extremes existed on the same roll of film. Sometimes they were on a roll that came out of my camera. As one of the youngest (although not the most junior) member of the local photography club I was also allowed to mingle with a group of exceptional amateur and professional photographers many of whom created exquisite images … more opportunity to learn the art and craft.
In university, I worked at the student union teaching photography and darkroom techniques. I became the mentor and guide, not so easy as it looked. Having to instruct and mentor others makes one think more critically about the craft.
Having cut my teeth in the film-based world, I now use the knowledge gained there to advantage in the digital reality of 21st century photography.
What I believe:
- It makes no difference what brand of camera you use, it’s the person, and more importantly, the eye behind the camera that makes the picture. A good photographer can make a great image with any camera. The old adage that “it’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools” applies.
- I believe that this also applies to pixel count. Above a certain number, the difference is minimal except for the size of the files produced.
- The only road to improvement is to take more pictures and to experiment. Just owning a camera does not make you a photographer except in the most elemental terms.
- Failing is as important as succeeding, unless you are shooting on assignment (like a wedding). The only way to nothing wrong is to do nothing, even the best photographers have a bin of images that they will share with no one.
- Few images (very few) come out of the camera ready to print or display in public. Ansel Adams spent more time in the darkroom that he did in the field.
- Your mileage may vary.