Performing Arts: Spoken Word; Visual Arts: Mixed Media, Photography; term
I am celebrating 48 years of making images.
My desire to photograph began in the 1950s as I became aware of the power of photographic imagery (although I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it at the time) through the Life magazines that came through our door weekly. A self-taught photographer, I count Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith, and the myriad other pictorialists in Life’s pages, as my mentors.
Shortly after moving to San Francisco in 1969 and two days after using a friend’s 35mm camera, I had my own Nikkormat with a 105mm (portrait) lens. At a camera store, I learned about film and how to load the camera. I joined the SF Photo Center, and, following their two-hour fundamentals in developing and printing class, was let loose in a darkroom.
Within two years, I began working with a Hasselblad medium format camera (the negative is 2 ¼” square and there are 12 shots to a roll of film) with a 150mm lens (equivalent to the 105mm) and had my own darkroom. I grew to love the square format and credit the twelve shots per roll of film with the honing of my style of shooting – I spend much time setting up my shot, using my negative as a painter would her canvas, in order to print full frame. I walk away without shooting if my framing cannot achieve what first attracted me to look through the lens. I still credit those Life photographers for helping me hone my visual perspective.
While the Hasselblad remains my most cherished tool, in 2009 I was dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. I find the lightweight digital cameras I’ve been using feed my creativity. Able to carry one at all times, I am able to capture those images that earlier would only be captured in my mind since the heft of the Hasselblad meant I would only carry my camera when I was focused on photographing. With digital, I am also enjoying, and getting very interesting results, working with movement to produce abstract images. I also work with mixed-media assemblage, most often using my own images within the piece.
Although taking more images using a digital format, I retain the habit of setting up shots with precision and printing my images full frame, and continue to retain a strict sensibility when choosing what to print. I also use an Epson 1400 printer and the immediacy of these digital tools is truly a wonder to my years of working in film, first in a darkroom during my 22 years working in b&w, and, with a switch to color exclusively in 1997, in having film developed and working with a professional printer.