"Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject." Eliot Porter

May 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Sitting in the warm Spring Sunshine on a quiet afternoon, listening to the song of life, I am in awe of the beauty that is all around me.  The soft sound of the gentle breeze, the call of unseen birds, and the aroma of the blossoms of early May enforce the feeling of being reborn.  It is an especially beautiful time of year.  I want to capture it all in a bottle and save it.  I started to think about photography, and my personal choice of Black and White as my favorite pallet.  It seems counter intuitive to think in Monochrome, and it made me smile a bit. 

 

The early masters in my chosen craft had little choice in those days, it all was black and white.  These Photographers were Chemists, technicians, and most of all artists.  They trained themselves to "see" in monochrome.  Form, texture, shape, and the play of light is what motivated them to work their craft.  Many books have passed though my hands in appreciation of how the masters composed and created so many classic images.  There is something about these lovely silver prints that is compelling.  From shadow to highlights a full toned print communicates so much emotion and appreciation of subject matter. 

 

Life in our culture is fast paced and demanding.  So demanding in fact that our choice of visual entertainment reflects this fast pace.  Many of us have lost the ability to slow down, breath, and absorb what is right in front of our eyes.  What catches our eye and causes us to stop has to visually scream at us to get our attention.  Current day media reflects this by dazzling visuals, and editing. 

 

I am a contrarian at heart.  My natural instinct is to go against the tide, to swim upstream.  My choice and favorite medium is Monochrome.  There is a element of nostalgia in a black and white print.  There is also an emphasis on texture, shape, tone, and light.  My goal is to cause the viewer to stop and spend some time with my work.  A fine black and white print, matted and framed properly, hung in adequate light gives its gift over and over to the owner.  A brief glance can turn into a longer gaze, calm the mind, spark a memory, and a brief imaginary journey. I am drawn to architectural details.  Especially those that have some historic value.  I often think about the original owner, and what stories this doorway could tell if only it could speak.  In my Ellis Island work, I can imagine the hope and optimism of the people that passed though the Great Hall, for instance.  What went on in their minds as they passed the Statue of Liberty and entered the gateway to promisland America?  When did their fear give way to excitement?  The Great Hall is an imposing room to stand in.  The tile work and arches say to the new arrival, "you have arrived".  In my Eastern State Penitentiary work, you can feel the power of the structure.  I chose the tone range to convey a bit of the emotion the arrivals must have felt as they entered.  I am working on a personal project at the White Hill Mansion, in Fieldsboro, NJ.  This Revolutionary era home has a lot of stories, and even more questions to convey.  I chose a mix of Monochrome and Color both to convey my emotions of this historic building. Its been said that all of a Photographers work is autobiographical.  While I control what work I choose to show, how my work gets interpreted is out of my control.  It is not uncommon for me to hear unintended meanings attached to a particular photograph.  I encourage this by keeping my titles neutral. The following quote illustrates this point very well I think.  "Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject." -Eliot Porter

 

 


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