Many photographers use the medium to faithfully record what is in front of the camera lens. While this is a valid approach, mine is very different. I shoot carefully selected images that capture my interest, composing and exposing each with the specific intention of creating a unique piece of art. I then choose a few of these images to focus on in my studio, meticulously processing each to achieve the desired result.
Like many photographers, I was influenced initially by the work of Ansel Adams, who had an inspiration that led to his revolutionary method of “Making a Photograph.” Primarily working with large format view cameras, he carefully exposed each piece of sheet film with an exact idea of how he would individually develop and print it to produce the precise image he had envisioned. He called this process "visualization," and his unique method of exposure, darkroom processing, and printing, “The Zone System." His final prints often looked starkly different from the original scenes that were in front of his lens; Adams molded his photographs into personal, stunning pieces of original art.
Adams' approach, in essence, is how I work, albeit in a digital environment. No matter the subject, I "visualize" my intent for the final print and work to realize that vision by using many different software applications and editing techniques. Rather than using HDR effects created by blending multiple exposures of the same image, I work from a single image file, drawing out, modifying, and enhancing luminosity, hues, and textures that are already present in the image. I strive to strike a balance between photorealism and artistic expression, with the goal of creating an original, vibrant piece of art worthy of exhibiting on the wall. Like Adams, my final prints, by design, are meant to be art, not exact photographic representations of the original subjects.
Lastly, to achieve the quality I desire, I personally make the final prints in my studio using only the finest, richly textured, archival papers available today. They are produced on a high-end, 12-color Epson large-format printer with wide-gamut, archival pigment inks. The result is extremely high-quality prints that can be treasured and will last a lifetime.
My Journey to Full-time Fine Art Photographer
Photography has been one of my passions for more than 50 years. During the 60s through the 90s, I had my own black and white darkroom, and used 35mm SLR, medium format, and large format film cameras. In 2000, I switched to digital photography using DSLR cameras, and recently moved from DSLR to a pro series mirrorless camera system.
I was a professional musician and songwriter during the 60s and 70s. I was one of the founding members of the Chicago-based rock band, the New Colony Six, for which I played lead guitar and wrote many of the group's original songs. We had several #1 singles in Chicago and other places in the country, many more in the top 40, and a number that made it to Billboard magazine's Top 100 list. We released many singles, four original albums, and a number of compilation albums, and toured throughout the US. We are credited with being the first Chicago rock band to break out nationally. Together with many other well-known Chicago bands that followed, we created the distinctive Chicago Sound of the 60s. We have been inducted into our high school Hall of Fame, the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
During that time, I taught myself how to do hand-carved leatherwork and, as a sideline, made purses, guitar straps, and belts.
After I closed down NC6, I became interested in computers, and taught myself programming, including Assembly Language, Basic, COBOL, PL1, and C.
I worked for 17 years for one of the largest and best-known musical instrument service and parts distribution centers in the US, doing sales and computer programming, as well as technical illustration, product photography, advertising, and catalog development. I learned and became adept with Adobe software (PageMaker, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop), and integrated these skills into producing the company’s promotional materials. I became Sales Manager and, eventually, General Manager.
My wife, Susan, and I then started our own business, Combined Design, designing and producing catalogs, flyers, brochures, and the like. I also did a lot of freelance digital prepress and file prep for various printing companies. We closed the business in 2018 and I became a full-time photographer.
My extensive experience with software and computer-based design was a perfect fit for my switch from film to digital photography, and has contributed greatly to my photographic work. I have also taken many workshops with well-respected professional photographers, and continue to advance my education through ongoing extensive reading, internet research, and video tutorials.
Our move to Santa Fe in 2018 allowed me to finally have the perfect studio and work environment to pursue and hone my craft.