The Photographer
For any form of communication to be effective, there must exist a context, a background, a basis from which the parties involved can draw meaning, not only to create the “vehicle” of the communication, but also to make sense of the message. Anti-war songs and slogans of the Vietnam era, for example, lose their meaning the more removed the listener is from the United States at the time of the Vietnam War. The cave paintings of pre-historic man have similarly lost their meaning as modern man has little in common with the artists of these ancient works. While the works themselves can be viewed as objects unto themselves, and appreciated as such, the ideas behind them become obscured as the cultural distance between the sender and receiver increases.

The culture in which my photographs were and are being created is a “sexualized” society where eroticism is a favorite tool of advertisers, selling everything from electronics to plumbing supplies. And it is, at the same time, a culture that often denies the very existence of sexuality, expecting some members to be asexual or at least maintain the appearance. It is a culture that craves fast results, larger homes, instant gratification, and lots of recognition. It is something of a “look at me! Pay attention to me!!!” society. Personal success is held in the highest regard especially when that success can be measured, and is displayed, monetarily. Working in such a culture, it can be challenging to maintain one’s perspective, but I suspect that the same could be said of any culture.

My “serious” interest in photography was sparked almost accidentally. I was planning a vacation to Hawaii some (15ish) years ago, and I wanted to take some “good” pictures of my trip. So armed with this desire and very little useful knowledge I purchased my first 35mm SLR camera. With a little effort and time I got the batteries installed, the film loaded, and set out in search of things to take pictures of, the camera set to full auto. The results of this first experiment were pathetic at best, with one notable exception. During my search I had spotted a bee on a small purple flower; it seemed like a good subject to me so I got as close as I could and pressed the button. This single photo was amazing compared to every other photo I had taken. And so, I set out to recreate the anomaly, ten rolls of film later I had ten pretty good photos and a few hundred pretty bad ones. The real problem was that I had yet to duplicate the results of my initial success. The ten good photos seemed to have nothing in common save the fact that I had taken them. Given the fact that my education had been science heavy this 1:35 ratio in my results was troubling: science prefers repeatable results. The fact that the camera looked, for all the world, like a machine, capable of repeating a process with little variation, only served to amplify my frustration. By this point in the process, the promise of the few good photos I had produced was enough to drive me to research the basics of photography. Along with an understanding of basic photographic theory came a basic understanding of light, an immediate improvement in my photography, and about 200 new ideas to explore, each with 100 new problems, questions, or challenges to deal with. For over fifteen years now I have explored, researched, questioned, failed, and succeeded, each question or failure leading to more research, more successes, more exploration and to more questions.

And so, I find myself on something of a journey, exploring the world through a lens. Since the beginning I often focused on small things, especially flowers. Flowers make good subjects because they are terribly patient; you can spend hours fussing over the angle of the light, the depth of field, the level of illumination and what not without boring the flower in the least. Flowers are readily available in an incredible array of colors and shapes. They come with a built in sexuality, typically symbolizing the female(specifically the female genitalia) in western (European) cultures. However, as flowers are typically hermaphroditic, this is open to exploration and interpretation, while remaining a socially acceptable subject. With flowers, and with many other subjects as well, Ihave a tendency to focus closer and closer as though if I could only get a close enough shot, I could show the very essence of the subject.

This is where I am at today; each photo is an attempt to convey the essence, the power, the “voltage”, the intrinsic value, and the state of the subject often while making a statement or posing a question. As my journey has progressed I have found myself farther from the world of the sciences, where every process can be modeled mathematically, and ever deeper in the art world where uniformity is shunned. With each new attempt I find myself drawing ever more heavily on the work of painters andsculptors, whose works I have found compelling, to the point that I now find myself researching “art” and art history instead of photography and lighting technique. I find that my questions have change from how do I get this look to what are the strengths of this style, and from what seed did it grow.These questions have led me to seek the very roots of modern (western) art, all the way back to the prehistoric cave paintings and carvings of stone age peoples, and this in turn has led me to consider the ancient works of other cultures. Once again, each answer leads to more questions, but if this were not the case I probably would have abandoned the journey long ago.

Modeling Info