Every photograph tells a literal story.  The image itself is a story.  Then there is the story behind why the photographer took it — what was included in the image or left out, why it was taken, the lighting and mood.  And then, there is the story that is told because of the viewers’ response or what it means to someone looking at it.

In Henry Carroll’s book, “Photographers on Photography, How the Masters See, Think & Shoot,”  I was struck by this quote from Jason Fulford:

“When a person looks at a photograph you’ve taken,
they will always think of themselves” 

Henry Carroll in his commentary notes, “right after we interpret the literal aspects of the image…we enter into a second, much more personal meaning. The second reading is informed by elements such as our memories, personal experiences, tastes and cultural backgrounds…this second reading is unpredictable and entirely outside the photographer’s control.  For Fulford, this gap between what is pictured and what it might mean is where photographs come alive”

There is an image on my website whose owner told me it touches her deeply to the point of tears when she reflects on it. Another image has been described by its owner as “art that stirs the soul.”  For yet another owner, their print has an intimate feeling, and a nostalgic tone with a sense of timelessness.  It is these kinds of personal reflections that turn the literal stories behind the images into art that means something to you. That is what brings an image to life and gives it real meaning.

It is personal reflections like these that I value in delivering Limited and Personal Exclusive editions to you.  For example, these two images, “No More General Store” and “Guard to History”, became fine art Limited Edition prints as a result of direct discussions about the photographs with people who had seen them and wanted prints for their own reasons.  In the case of “Guard to History,” the backstory is this photograph is of the guard booth on the grounds of Mount Vernon near George Washington’s tomb. It is empty and even a little weathered. It was taken in the winter months…but there is a little light reflection on the bushes.  Perhaps the title should have a question mark after it?

“When you look at a photograph that is printed, you are free of distraction allowing you to really engage and experience all that it has to offer. The experience triggers an emotional response very different from simply seeing an image for a fleeting moment on a screen. The print is a finished product that engages the viewer. People want to move closer and even touch a print. Viewing a print encourages the viewer to travel into the frame imagining the experience of being in that place.” – Seth Resnick

Whether it is the social feeds and stories on Instagram or Facebook, the unorganized photo album on our phones, flipping a page in a magazine or book or the onslaught of visually enticing advertisements that we see every day, we are awash in a world of images.

However, photographic prints are not the same kind of fleeting and temporary experiences. Prints are tangible.  Prints bring scale to the image. A small print forces us to look more closely and a large print creates an immersive experience.  Prints bring details in the photograph to life.  Prints encourage us to view images in different ways — to reflect and to see more.

Photographers make lots of photographs. But we print the ones we think are best and most important. Prints bring our work out of the camera and digital work flow or dark room into the world where the image can be shared and experienced in a more complete way.

Prints are a demanding part of the process that take a photographer’s vision and bring it to completion.  Determining what kind of print to make is one part of the complexity. For example, prints can be made using processes like dye-sublimation on aluminum or pigment ink printing on archival paper or in traditional dark room processes or by making a negative of a digital photo in order to make platinum/palladium print.  Take a look at all the options.

Whatever process and size of print is chosen, the photographer then works hard to ensure that the light, tone, color and composition are coming to life the way they want.  For example, a print I wanted to do on clear aluminum did not work and so I had to change the media it was printed on.  Ansel Adams worked on printing “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” for 40 years making adjustments along the way.  Making prints is a complex part of bringing the vision of an image to realization.

Prints offer viewers the chance to consider not only what the photographers saw and how they saw it, but also the way it has been printed to be shared. The final print is the object and the carrier of the story.

 “A print is much more than a mere reproduction of an image.  It is the culmination of the inspiration and vision of the photographer.  It is the clearest, most direct and powerful form of the image and has the ability to move beyond words, ideas and concepts to touch and move the viewer”  — Christopher Burkett

or, as noted here, just start printing

“Our country is made for long trips”
American photographer Stephen Shore

Road trips are part of the fabric of America.  They inform, inspire and invigorate.

The American road trip has long been a signature adventure for families.  There must be thousands and thousands of family snapshots from summer vacations.  The open road and the vast land have also engaged artists.  Road trips are prominent in literature, with writings by Steinbeck and Kerouac for example, as well as in music, movies and photography.  The road trip is part of our culture.

Photography captures and shares perspectives of the landscapes, our communities and the roadside signs and symbols of American life. Photographers, including Walker Evans and Edward Weston, immortalized their travels through the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s America’s culture was documented in the famous book, The Americans, by Robert Frank (among my personal favorites).  In the 1970s Stephen Shore undertook his month long adventure resulting in the famous “American Surfaces” series.  In 2014, David Campany’s book and traveling exhibit, The Open Road: Photography & the American Road Trip explored the photographic road trip as a genre of its own.  He notes:

“the road trip confirmed our fascination, our horror,
our sense of possibility, of the sublime and the banal.
And forced us to confront the clichés in our heads and the clichés out there. I think that’s why most photographers go on the road.”

Road trips are what led to my Roadside America project which I continue to fine tune and evolve. These trips have:

  • explored the magnificent geography and desolation of West Texas;
  • made for peaceful mornings with the light of the sun and the sound of the ocean on the Outer Banks and the Eastern Shore;
  • chased the blues and the difficult history of the Mississippi Delta;
  • brought to life the awe across the western states, in the Rockies, Yellowstone and the Tetons;
  • made me think about the first pioneers (and what we now call “fly over country”) as I travel around the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains while listening to Bluegrass music; and,
  • my 2018 Americana Road Trip  featured “another time” along Route 66, while also following parts of the trail of civil rights, experiencing the gut wrenching Oklahoma memorial and listening to the vibrant roots of country, rock and roll, blues and soul music.  You can also find more from the 2019 trip here and here

From a recent trip west, a look at some of the black and white infrared photographs.

Along the backroads of America are instances of human efforts serving as reminders that along today’s roadsides there are opportunities to pause, reflect and wonder about the people who settled once empty lands and the vibrant communities that were once part of the roadside

A look at some of the black and white infrared images coming out of digital processing. Images are from the recent road trip along Route 66, time in New Mexico and back through Mississippi

My friend Geoff Livingston, who was featured here in a photography showcase, has a podcast (also available as video) called the “Show me podcast” where he chats with folks about iconic photos and why they work (or not).

We caught up to talk about Robert Frank’s book, The Americans.  And then we talked about the Roadside America project, Infrared photography and some of the thoughts behind PhotoNexus (at the 27 minute point) which I am organizing in Santa Fe, July 26 & 27.

Hope you can find the time to check out the podcast…and yes, a saxophone walks through it.

One of the aspects of PhotoNexus that excites me is the talented group of people who have come together to share their knowledge, insights and inspiration with the small group of people attending the event.  We have brought together an outstanding group of independent curators, galleries, photographers, and photography educators who will offer a broad perspective on the art of photography, as well as take you behind-the-scenes with their own personal experiences and commentary.  Among the people behind the art, who PhotoNexus attendees will meet and engage with, are:

  • a person who apprenticed under Ansel Adams and was selected to print his Yosemite series.
  • among the photographers we have people whose work is in the National Portrait Gallery, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Center for Creative Photography, Tucson AZ– to name just a few
  • we have a person world renown for his platinum palladium prints
  • the galleries who are involved work with museums and private collectors. They also manage estates of some famous photographers
  • an expert on the historical development of photography and how it has influenced the contemporary artistic medium
  • the person who leads one of the world’s most prestigious and significant photography education programs, as well as a former member of the faculty of Art Center College of Design
  • a leader in the world of fine art photography and today’s digital world who has developed new approaches to fine art printing, book making and exhibiting
  • a pioneer in the photo books segment

On Saturday afternoon, we will make a special field trip to visit David Michael Kennedy’s studio and dark rooms.  Here is a preview

Meet the Talented People: here is a little more information about the distinguished and talented people who will share their insights and inspiration at PhotoNexus:

 

(Update) Nathan Benn: Over the past fifty years, Nathan Benn has worn many professional hats related to photographic arts, including National Geographic Magazine photographer, Director of Magnum Photos, curator, Internet entrepreneur, and museum Trustee. He is currently vice-president of CENTER for Photography in Santa Fe and is working on a sixth solo museum exhibition of his photographs. Nathan’s photographs can be found in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Rijksmuseum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Harvard Art Museums, and George Eastman Museum.  In parallel to his career of making and managing photographs, Nathan has been a serious collector of photography and early American decorative arts.  He will talk about the homes and collections in New York and Santa Fe that he shares with his wife, Rebecca Abrams, a fine arts photographer.  His presentation will be about their evolution as collectors, what inspires them to live with photographs, and personal concerns and strategies regarding photography collecting and preserving one’s photographic legacy  https://www.apeculiarparadise.com/   https://www.kodachromememory.com/

Mark Berndt: Mark Berndt is a photographer whose work celebrates people and the circumstance of life. He brings the experience of a long and varied career in the visual arts, offering a select set of services in photography, filmmaking, design and teaching to professional and emerging imaging artists in Santa Fe and worldwide. With more than 20 years of teaching experience, he brings considerable knowledge about, and experience in, the art and business of visual image-making and communications. http://markberndt.com/

Reid Callanan has spent his entire adult life focused on photographic education — the past twenty-eight years as Director of the world renown Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and before that working at Maine Photographic Workshops. In addition to his role as director, Reid has taught a workshop named “Cameras Don’t Take Pictures.” While his business career is mostly all consuming, he also makes time to photograph every day and for his ongoing projects.  Reid also founded the non-profit Santa Fe Center for Photography, now known as Center, and is currently an officer on its Board of Director. https://www.santafeworkshops.com https://www.reidcallanan.com/about

Natalie Christensen is a photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico and has shown work in the U.S. and internationally including London, Dusseldorf, New York and Los Angeles. She was one of five invited photographers for the exhibition The National 2018: Best of Contemporary Photography at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and has recently been named one of “Ten Photographers to Watch” by the Los Angeles Center of Digital Art. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the University of Texas at Tyler.  In addition to pursuing her interests in art and design, Natalie has worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years and has been particularly influenced by the work of depth psychologist Carl Jung. This influence is evidenced in her photographs, as shadows and psychological metaphors are favored subjects.  https://nataliechristensenphoto.com

David Michael Kennedy. His body of work spans over 40 years and is held in both private and museum collections including The National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian Institution and The Harwood Museum, among many others.  His impressive and vast body of work includes iconic portraits of musicians, actors and artists. Visitors often find themselves stumbling onto recognizable pictures of Bob Dylan, Debbie Harry or Willie Nelson –pictures that they have known well and for years-but now have the opportunity to meet the artist and hear the stories behind the famous images.  Leaving New York and commercial photography in 1986 David Michael Kennedy moved to New Mexico and began to focus on his fine art photography. His name quickly became synonymous with New Mexican Landscapes and we are fortunate to see it through his eyes. Kennedy’s images are materialized through the traditional analogue technique of Platinum/Palladium printing, of which he is widely considered to be one of the best in the world. https://www.davidmichaelkennedy.com

Pilar Law has been in the business of photography and a photographer’s advocate for 14 years. She’s worked with photo stock agencies, technology companies and photo labs to bring them online and to develop new approaches to fine art printing, book making and exhibiting, social media marketing and sales. During the course of her work, she studied with photographers who encouraged her to hone her own skill and pursue fine art photography. http://www.pilarlaw.com/about.html.  Edition ONE is a unique contemporary photography gallery specializing in editions of one. Edition ONE collectors will find exclusive access to new photographic works both from emerging and established photographers in Santa Fe and around the world.

Monroe Gallery of Photography specializes in classic black & white photography with an emphasis on humanist and photojournalist imagery. The gallery features work by more than 50 renowned photographers and also represents a select group of contemporary and emerging photographers,  some of the best photography the 20th and 21st century have to offer.  Sidney and Michelle Monroe maintain extensive personal connections with important photographers, clients, collectors, dealers, estates, auction houses, and archives world-wide. They have consulted with photographers, estates, and archives to curate and organize programs and exhibitions. They advise private collectors, museums and corporations with an emphasis on building significant collections with a variety of prudent focuses. They are acknowledged experts on the life and work of numerous important photographers, including several famed LIFE Magazine photojournalists, such as Margaret Bourke-WhiteCarl Mydans, and Alfred Eisenstaedthttp://www.monroegallery.com/

Photo-Eye  was founded in 1979 by Rixon Reed. It is the world’s foremost online photography bookstore featuring over 30000 fine-art photography books.  It has since grown to also become one of the world’s foremost website devoted to contemporary photography and the photo-eye Gallery was established in Santa Fe New Mexico in 1991 as a division of photo-eye and has been selling prints online since 1996.  https://www.photoeye.com

Alan Ross is an internationally respected master photographer and educator who worked side-by-side with Ansel Adams. He continues to be the exclusive printer of the Yosemite Special Edition negatives, an assignment Adams selected him for personally in 1975.  Alan makes each print by hand from Adams’ original negatives using traditional darkroom techniques. As an artist, Alan is known for his tonally exquisite black-and-white photographs of the American west. His photographs are in collections and galleries around the world including Houston’s Museum of fine Arts, The Yale Museum of Art and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.  He teaches about the art of seeing and is also a master printer. https://www.alanrossphotography.com/

Scheinbaum & Russek, are celebrating 38 years in business and they specialize in 20th century vintage and contemporary photography as well as representing the Estates of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall and Eliot Porter. Scheinbaum & Russek have approached the gallery world through their roles as educators, artists, and collectors and bring to their gallery an appreciation of photographers, the fine print and the history of photography.  http://www.photographydealers.com

Jennifer Schlesinger, Owner and Director of Obscura Gallery, is a Curator, Gallerist, Educator, and Artist. Schlesinger has approached her fine art photography with an interest in how the historical development of photography has influenced the contemporary artistic medium – mostly exploring the 19th century albumen and 20th century gelatin silver printing processes and combining them with contemporary landscape surrealism. Obscura Gallery represents the finest contributions to the history of photography both through contemporary and vintage works.  https://www.jenniferschlesinger.com/ https://www.obscuragallery.net

 

Come join us.  More information and registration at: https://binhammerphotographs.com/photonexus