I AM AN EMERGING ART PHOTOGRAPHER dedicated to creating subjective and interpretive images of our shared American landscape. My work explores the trunks of cottonwoods, the gold of Mojave dust, slanted moonlight and crisp shadows, the sinusoidal curves of man’s creations, with a recognition that nature and our own hands all tell a story of what once was and may still be. These photographic explorations can be seen overtly or faintly through metal tracks, wood splinters and marks and artifacts laid upon the topography of our once pristine lands.

Art has been a long-time calling and a longer time arriving as I transitioned from an engineering career to the visual arts. My life’s experiences of solving problems of precision have confirmed that mastery of craft is proportional to one’s effort; correspondingly, I have also discovered that artistic vision, through photography, unfolds slowly, and only across extended periods of time. And while my journey has covered layers of time and activities, including landscape, sports and event photography, my art has grown through intense work in the National Park Photography Expedition’s landscape art program. Influences here helped me develop an aesthetic for impressionistic images that venture beyond sheer representation of nature and things, to images that consciously originate in my mind as representing an Americana Earthscape narrative.

WHO I AM

BACKGROUND

  • Guest Lecturer, South County Photo Club, Orange County, November 2019
  • “Oxidized” photo project reviewed at 2019 Medium Festival of Photography, San Diego
  • Participating in photography mentorship with Bob Killen, MFA, National Park Photography Expeditions
  • Board member, Mojave National Preserve Artists Foundation, August 2019 to present
  • The Desert Light magazine, back cover, 2019 (publication on hold)
  • Orange County Register, OC Varsity, online images, various sports, 2017 to present
  • Multi-year photographic exhibitor at the OC Fair, winning ribbons at multiple levels
  • First place, OC Fair two-hour Digital Photography Challenge, 2016
  • Multi-year guest lecturer to high school art classes, landscape and sports photography genres
  • Co-founding member for a group of volunteer & professional photographers, personally covering approximately 100 high school events per year
  • Board member, Every Child Has a Name, a humanitarian group assisting orphans, 2008 to 2014
  • Summited Mt. Whitney 18 times, Mt. Lassen several times, and other southern California peaks.
  • Civil Engineer for over 30 years, developing & designing roads, bridges, channels and parks
  • American Society of Civil Engineers, OC Branch Government Engineer of Merit, 2009
  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, California State University Long Beach, 1988
  • Bachelor of Science in Soil Science, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 1981
  • For US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Youth Conservation Corps, during four summers, rehabilitated trails within forested lands and national parks of California’s high Sierras and coastal ranges

MY PERSONAL ETHOS

Commonly defined, Ethos, a Greek word meaning “character,” describes guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. Applied to photographic work, Ethos refers to the knowledge, trustworthiness and credibility, hence the character of the individual photographer.

My Ethos can best be described by referring to 20th century photographer and critic John Szarkowski, from his book entitled, “The Photographer’s Eye,” who opined that five basic elements contribute to the “… formulation of a vocabulary and a critical perspective more fully responsive to the unique phenomena of photography.”

My character and my ethos, as defined, is that I pursue a sense of reality (where my picture starts) in all of my images, while much of my sense of craft or structure (where my picture is completed) consists of anonymous and untraceable components within the image itself. I use The Detail to force the facts to tell the truth, as I see it. I am not necessarily trying to make a story clear; rather, I strive to make it seem as real as it is represented by the contents of my images. I use The Frame and edges of my images as my method to define the juxtaposition of its contents, to create relationships and stories that may emanate from those two, whether organic or inorganic or a melding of both. In all photography, Time is always a factor, whether the time of day the image was captured, or the time (length) of the exposure. With Time, the thing that happens at the decisive moment (when the shutter is pushed) is not a climax but a visual element. By the use of creative Vantage Points, through working the camera and scene (judicious placement of my camera, and by extension, the viewer), I strive to create pictures that drive the sense of the scene in ways often not expected.

And finally, the artistic component of my photography deals with the actual—The Thing Itself—where the image survives the subject and becomes the remembered reality. All of my images are based on the reality I perceive when I choose to pause time to create the base image. Thereafter, by artistic use of post-processing techniques, my aesthetic simplifies the image, removes un-necessary stimulus, creates metaphors and narratives, to deliver an abstract, impressionistic or representational image as the outcome–essentially, what I felt at the time of capture.

Influential Photographic Artists in My Journey:

Three broad categories of photographic artists have aesthetic or artistic elements that inspire my own artistic pursuits. These includes artists that I characterize as the Classical masters—photographers who were pioneers in their craft and art, using film as their medium to express their art; current masters–artists, still alive and producing art, whose contemporary photographic images resonate with me; and, my personal mentors and colleagues–artists in my inner circle of friends and colleagues who provide guidance and mentorship to me.

Of the classical masters, Edward Weston takes a lead role, with his high-resolution photographs that transformed his subjects into abstractions of shapes and patterns. Ansel Adams, whose technical mastery and previsualization is the stuff of legend, provided a complex “zone system” of controlling and relating exposure and development, enabled photographers to creatively visualize an image and produce a photograph that matched and expressed that visualization. Minor White, whose images, sometimes dark and foreboding, displayed details, contrast and textures in ways that simplified the complex, transforming things into objects difficult to describe, lending mystery to the image.

Of the current masters, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s images provide stark and seemingly simple yet deceptively complex art that often affords viewers an opportunity to imagine just what it is that they are viewing. Andreas Gursky, known for large format landscape and architecture color photography, and whose images are frequently taken from a high vantage point, allows viewers to witness scenes incorporating details from both the periphery and center. Michael Kenna often creates a sense of calm, solitude and tranquility in his images, not seeking to present an accurate copy of the world, but to extract something original and emotive from it. Mitch Dobrowner’s use of indirect light, stark composition and moody backgrounds for his weather and landscape-inspired images are captivating and compel me to want to visit and shoot similar works, but from my perspective and aesthetic.

Of my mentors, Bob Killen, the creative talent behind National Park Photography Expeditions, has significantly helped guide and further my development as an artist. Bob recognized and encouraged my unique personal aesthetic, and has shown me how to appreciate it, develop it, and to generate images that depict my aesthetic.

Other artists also influence my work; when I re-write this segment in the future, my primary influencers will likely be expanded, just as my focus within a genre may change. Only time will tell.