Printing and Influences Pt. 1

Printing for the Clowes Hall exhibit has begun. It’s going to be exciting to put the entire exhibit together on the frames made by Satch’s brother, Ed Satchwill II. (click on photograph to enlarge – made in Michigan)

I mentioned earlier that I would post something about my influences. In two parts I’m going to briefly write about photographers and others who have had an impact on my work. It’s not easy for me to put into words much of what I feel about this subject, but here goes…

The spirituality of Minor White’s photographs is what tripped a switch inside of my brain that photography could transcend the simple recording of a scene. He was able to combine Ansel Adams’ Zone System with the idea of equivalence as put forth by Stieglitz. Minor has an exceptional ability to see past the obvious of his environment and record scenes and portraits within exceptional light that reflected memories and the elusive inner spirit.

From a letter to Ansel Adams (May 17, 1964 Rochester, NY):

Semantically I make or accept and try to understand the esoteric use of the word Life and the opposite word Spirit. The first refers to all of nature and man that meets my senses both inner and outer, and which I am born into and also an CAUGHT in. On one hand it is to be avoided, and on the other hand it is all I have by which to encounter the seed of Spirit. The world of Spirit is practically unknown to me, maybe the tiniest speck has been seen, and it is quite different than Life, very different, to my state it seems quite the opposite.

In this preface to an unknown manuscript (1964 Rochester NY) Minor writes about Equivalence:

Equivalence – Recollections of the past with love balanced the greed. And I have blessed the metamorphosing power of camera because it thereby yields images corresponding to my memories of things past. Equivalence grew out of this. Equivalence in camera whereby the invisible is made visible to the intuition, the invisible organic, the invisible spirit.

Below are two examples of Minor White’s work:

Seeing Robert Franks’s original prints from the “The Americans” at IMA last year reaffirmed my view that photographs can transcend simple documentation.

Other photographers whose work I admire: Paul Caponigro, Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Paul Strand (esp. his work in New Mexico and his garden in Orgeval, France), Stieglitz, William Christenberry and many others.

The best advice that I have read:

“Concern yourself not with the question whether the medium of photography is art. The question is dated and absurd to begin with. You are art or not; what you produce is or isn’t. And don’t think about that either, just do, act.”

William Christenberry

In part two I will write about personal friends that have influenced my work.

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