A gift of a camera led me to a long and engrossing involvement with photography, first as a forensic photographer, then a wedding photographer and finally as a fine art photographer and teacher.
When I first got my camera (in 1985) I was disappointed when the photographs came out looking exactly like the places I had just seen. I wanted them to look different. I was immediately drawn to black and white because of its tonal variety and printing challenges. But more important was the discovery of another step away from reality when I discovered how to enhance the photos with oils, pencils and pastels and found textured papers for printing. The third step in the progression away from reality occurred when I changed to infrared film—the perfect mate for my coloring technique. I loved the grain, the softness and the light areas. Infrared revealed the unfamiliar—the obscure. It glowed with mystery. Now I had what I wanted, and I was satisfied with the softer atmosphere created by the oil painted black and white infrared images. I have continued with this technique since 1986.
Most of my images are made when I come upon a scene that I just can’t pass up. I don’t have to travel far because these places are frequently just quiet little corners discovered in my friends’ homes—ordinary spots I just happened to notice. I find these spaces worth looking at and want to show them to other people the way I see them. There’s beauty in certain ordinary objects or places—empty boats or chairs or jars of spices sitting on the shelf of an old stove. Many other images that attract me are of structures or places that are abandoned. They beckon and feel magical because I sense the passage of time. Who lived there? Where did the people go? Other times it’s the quality of light which attracts me, or the way an object was placed upon a table.
Often, I’m asked, “Why on earth do you want to photograph that?” The answer is that I find these lonely spots to be very calming and evocative. They make me reflect on what story they are telling. They made me stop and notice, stirring my fantasies, and making me wonder what happened to the people. Often, I see the potential painting and select the image for just that reason.
Sometimes I get to work with the people themselves. I’ve enjoyed photographing children just being themselves, and have particularly enjoyed photographing the nude figure.
Photography is an illusion, despite the fact that we have always heard that the camera doesn’t lie. Photographers are increasingly stretching the boundaries of those images with the computer. I’m just doing it in a more old-fashioned way. I love all parts of the process, shooting, developing, printing, toning and painting, but nothing is more relaxing to me than the painting itself. It has added enormous joy to my life.