Seeing life in color

At the early onset black and white appealed to me for a number of reasons. A very chronicled history of which to draw inspiration from is important when you haven’t formed your own photographic vision. The ability to be self contained and in control of the process from beginning to end (this was before digital work flow was a consumer product) was also a big factor both financially and artistically. Most importantly was the aesthetic. If you do anything long enough the process eventually loses its mystery and you’ve found that you’ve mastered the craft at least to the level of competent proficiency. The natural evolution is to introduce a new process, format or medium. Often times that process unlocks something and when you go back to the old process you find your approach has changed. You don’t see things quite the same way as you did before. If I chronicled these milestones I can honestly say the things that impacted my photography the most are usually the most simple. Toy cameras with limited controls and functions and Polaroid integral films rank very highly in my personal evolution. There are countless other influences as well. Photographic works of others naturally. I could list them all but it might be easier to just say Magnum and Szarkowski era MOMA photographers cover most of them.

I’ve made many attempts at color photography but I was never satisfied with my results. It’s so much harder to convince myself as a viewer that my work was any good. Now more than ever we are exposed to thousands of color photographic images daily. Making works that stand out without leaning on cliches and tropes too heavily seemed all but impossible. When you make a photo most of the time you get an image that does not look as your eyes saw in the viewfinder. Colors shift or are translated into grey scale and only a tiny square or rectangle of the real world remains. Like most artistic processes you can’t just set out to do something. The process has to be organic. Some people are naturally gifted with a vision or a visual poetry in color. The rest of us can only stand on their shoulders and fake it until we make it. Relying on effects of the camera to make the everyday interesting (the filter effect) is a common tool in our toolbox because it offers an altered reality. To most people that’s what art is. Am altered state of reality. We’re taught to recognize it as such.

My goal is to make straight photographs in color that are compelling without leaning to heavily on nostalgia, intrinsic beauty or cliches. On the surface that sounds simple but in reality it’s a monumental task that very few artists have achieved.