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About the Artist
I interpret nature’s poignant moments using large format (4x5, 4x10 & 8x10) black & white film photography, relying on the limited tools of camera, film, and light to create my images in the field. I begin my creative process by drawing on my extensive long-distance hiking background. Between 1994 and 2003, I backpacked over 16,000 miles and managed to do end-to-end hikes of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail & the Continental Divide Trail, in addition to several shorter trails. At the time, I wasn’t a professional photographer. But the experience gave me a massive repository of potential locations and subjects with which to work. Equally important, during my years in the woods, I came to appreciate the splendor of “natural light”, as opposed to the overly massaged and manipulated approach to photography that is currently in vogue. To create an image, I first tap into my reservoir of geographic experience and knowledge. But I am not drawn to a location purely because of its geography, but because of its compositional elements. Early on, I supplement my personal experience with other published accounts and begin to identify specific elements with which I may want to work. Along the way, I think about how I want to interpret a scene and the specific lighting that is necessary to achieve my objective. Often, the individual elements begin to develop personalities that contribute to my choices about lighting and weather. After months or more of research, I venture to the location and start to build potential compositions, eliminating the less desirable and concentrating on the few that best fit my needs. Finally, I evaluate light and make the exposure. For example, the impetus for “The Edge of the Continent, Jekyll Island, GA” came from hikes on the Oregon coast. But after tinkering with the concept for a couple of years, my travels led me to Georgia’s Boneyard Beach. I was fascinated by the standing skeletal remains of stately live oaks and their silent resolve against the ocean’s slow, but inevitable, reclamation of their beach. Capturing that sense of isolation, however, required very specific conditions. I needed a morning storm breaking up and blowing out to sea for the optimal lighting. Most critically, however, I needed high tide to isolate the tree and breathe surreal life into an otherwise traditional scene. After many long hikes, I found a tree that was well suited to my vision. Then I waited a few more years for the optimal weather window before spending a week on location waiting for the precise moment when I exposed the film. Ultimately, the image has less to do with the location and more to do with the emotions it evokes. I capture all of my images on large format black & white film; a slow laborious process that requires patience and forethought. Thus, my work is more akin to painting – relying on relatively primitive tools and carefully built compositions – and only tangentially related to what is considered modern “photography”. My dedication to a simpler form of photography means that some years I may add a half dozen pieces to my portfolio, while in others, I manage only a few . After developing and scanning the film, I make minor tonal corrections but limit my work to only what could be done in a traditional darkroom. I do all of my own printing in a professional lab and all inks and materials are archival. I perform each step personally with one lab assistant that aids me in preparing material as well as mounting & sealing large pieces. Lives and works in Howell, MI.