When did you first pick up a camera and discover your love for creating images?
The first memory I have of being captivated with cameras dates back to 1961, when I was ten years old. I had a small Brownie camera; I discovered an old hay rake in a field and took a shot of it. The resulting black and white photo began my love affair with cameras and finding old farming equipment to photograph. But my love of creating art goes back to kindergarten. I drew and colored with Crayola crayons enthusiastically. As I grew older, it became apparent that I could not successfully reproduce anything realistically by hand. Hence, today I use cameras mainly to produce images for digital paintwork and other enhancements.
What is your background/training?
No formal training at all. But I grew up in the 50's with a wonderful set of Compton's Encyclopedia, which had lavish reproductions of art by the great masters with simple explanations of artistic schools, styles, etc. This led to further research as I got older. I was totally captivated by the notion of painting from life. When I was beginning to seriously shoot photos as an adult, I had a help from other photographers on the technical end of things. As a digital artist I an almost entirely self-taught. I experiment. I learn best on my own – I have always been an autodidact. But every time I create a digital piece that is not strictly contemporary, there are always images by the great masters from the past in my head as I work.
Are you a full time or part time photographer?
Full-time now, but only for creating images for myself to either offer for sale or to digitally paint from.
Have you won any awards?
Several of my photographs have won awards at local art shows. And I did have one photo, titled Quake!, state in the unfortunately now-defunct art journal American Muse. As a writer, I have had poems state in many online journals, and in print in the Uno Anthology, Poems Niederngasse and The Gall.
Have you held any exhibitions?
Not yet. There is a possibility of one next fall (2011). I have only been a full-time professional for a year and some now.
Who have you photographed/worked for?
Is there a type or style of photography that you haven’t yet tried that interests you?
I think it would be very exciting to try shooting with a large-format camera.
What is the hardest part of being a (photographer) working artist in today’s business climate?
The very tough economic climate of the type we’re experiencing in the US today is never good for the creative arts. People who are worrying about putting food on the table don’t buy art, go to plays, etc.
Do you work with digital, film or both?
Both, but now, mostly digital. Most of the work I now create is digital art based on my photographs. Technology has allowed me to realize my dream of painting and drawing that my manual inability could not.
Being that a lot of photographic imaging is now purely digital, do you think many photographers are slowly becoming digital artists or graphic designers and moving away from the traditional role of a photographer?
I think only those who truly want to create digital art or work as graphic designers are moving away from pure photography. People who are passionate about expressing themselves strictly through photography will always be a large part of the art world – or at least I hope they will.
Do you think that the advancement in digital cameras and technology has made your job easier?
Yes and no. I think my old film SLRs helped me ‘see’ better and shoot photos that are better as photos, as opposed to digital cameras, that help me shoot more photos in less time that are more suitable for painting. Digital cameras are easier to cart around, too.
Has the availability of digital cameras and imaging software had an effect on your day to day business?
Naturally, in ways both good and bad.
The upside is that as technology advances, good equipment and software becomes more affordable, making it possible for the working artist/photographer to expand his or her knowledge, enhance his or her ability to create and to use a greater range of tools.
The downside is that the proliferation of cheap, easy-to-use digital cameras and a wider range of art technology causes a lot of unexceptional work to be posted as ‘art’; people can now fancy themselves ‘professional’ photographers and artists even if all they’re doing is pushing a button or using unsophisticated digital programs to make designs. The result is that the market for independent professionals whose work is primarily sold on the internet is flooded with amateurish work that clutters up the field.
Are the internet and online photographic agencies good for the photographic industry and photographers or are there too many options for photographers to choose from?
For working artists, the internet is a door to gaining recognition for one’s work as well as selling. As digital art slowly becomes more accepted by a broader group of the art-buying public, having one’s work available for viewing and purchasing on the internet can lead to more and better opportunities, such as obtaining professional recognition and representation as well as exhibition opportunities.
Do you think that most photographers/artists are as knowledgeable as they could be about copyright law and image licensing?
Probably not. It’s a field in which I also have a lot to learn, and as my work gets more notice I am slowly but surely getting more up to speed on that part of the business. I recently sold and licensed a digital paining to Disney/SABC for use on a set of the TV show ‘Desperate Housewives’, and learned a lot about licensing in a huge hurry.
How do you promote your work?
Now it is strictly internet based and word of mouth; however, I plan to begin marketing images locally by approaching merchants about selling opportunities.
Do you use any internet forums or social networks?
Yes, but not as many or as often as I probably should.
Lots of people recommend social networks for promoting small businesses. Is it something you have considered or do?
Well, I used to be active on Facebook, but their constantly changing and expanding rules about making one’s entire life, location and history transparent has caused me to delete my membership there. My work is often recommended by others (and occasionally by me, too) on sites such as StumbleUpon and Twitter. And I do belong to a few social networks for working artists as well.
Sewing Basket in Sunlight
Do you ever look at the work of other photographers to see how current techniques and image styles are changing and developing?
Not photographers as such, but the work of other working digital artists, not only to admire their work but also to see what software and techniques they’re using.
Who is your favourite photographer?
Hmmm…I admire the work of the photographers from the past immensely – Julia Margaret Cameron, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Capa and Cartier-Bresson, Steichen and Adams of course. More currently, Annie Liebovitz. I rarely look at advertising photography but the shot she took of Keith Richards for the relatively recent Vuitton ad is photographic art at its best. I must also speak to painters, however, because so much of my work is digital paint. Rembrandt is my hero, along with Corot for his skies, Hopper for his immediacy, Vermeer for light…I could go on and on here. The Old Masters of 17th-century northeastern Europe influence my work greatly as well. And the graphic artists of the early 20th century produced memorable artwork for advertising.
What is your all time favourite photographic image?
That’s a difficult question…I am not sure I can answer that without thinking about it for so long that this interview would be held up for a long time…sorry!
Which celebrity, actor or band would you most like to work with if the opportunity came along?
I have to laugh here, because I was a working musician for many years in another life, so if I were to find myself back in that milieu, I’d hope to be there as a performer, not a photographer or digital artist.
Do you use a mac or pc?
I use a custom-built PC that is quite old in technological terms. I need a newer one to run some of the art software being made today.
Do you think it is important to choose one over the other in terms of producing the final results?
I have never used a Mac for art, so I can’t really answer that. I know people say Macs are IT for graphics and art, but I seem to do OK with my PC and I’ve been using PCs for so long I imagine I might have quite a steep learning curve with a Mac.
Given an unlimited budget, what would be on your equipment shopping list?
Oh, so many things – a few more cameras with tons of lenses, a new computer with a much larger, faster processor and tons more RAM, a professional scanner and photograph printer and oodles of art software.
What do you think the future holds for professional digital artists and photographers?
Unlike some doomsayers, I think there will always be opportunities for print work. I don’t believe magazines and books in print will ever be obsolete, nor do I think people will stop wanting to hang art of whatever kind on their walls. If and when the economy picks up, I think the horizon is limitless…it keeps expanding.
Anything else you’d like to ad?
Yes – please buy my art! And thanks for the interview.