Understanding viscerally the kinds of photographs I want to make has been a journey of inspiration and frustration. I majored in photography in college and worked hard for some years after to develop my craft. I wanted to emulate my heroes - Adams, Caponigro, Tice, Strand, Weston - and armed with a Deardorff 4x5 camera and tripod, I set out in nature, determined to make prints like those of the photographers who inspired me. But it was precisely that determination that constrained my development as an artist: how could I find my own vision if I insisted on seeing the world through the eyes of my heroes?
Frustrated by my inability to find inspiration in nature, I stopped doing photography and it was many years before I picked up a camera again. It was through travel that I rediscovered that spark. I began traveling for pleasure a decade ago and bought a good digital camera to take pictures. Unburdened by the pressures of emulation, I experienced anew the joy of photography and allowed my eye to lead me. I spent countless hours in museums and galleries viewing art, seeing how modern artists in particular constructed images, dealt with composition and color, and they inspired me to think differently about representation.
It took a long time for me to understand the kind of photographer I wanted to be, to find my own eye. I admire the work of Cartier-Bresson, but the essence of my work does not spring from a decisive moment. I am drawn to the urban environment, to the residue of human touch that I find as I wander the streets of cities around the world - the curves of staircases and exhaust pipes, torn posters, graffiti on walls of abandoned buildings. And I found digital photography liberating: the creative possibilities afforded by digital editing tools relieved the pressure of capturing a perfectly composed or exposed image in the field.
It is primarily shapes and colors that attract my eye - architectural elements that appear sculptural, small sections of graffiti that form abstractions. Though harmony pervades much of my work, there is dissonance in some of my photographs, the use of composition and color intended to destabilize reality and unsettle the viewer. The more I work, the more I understand the kind of photographs I want to make. I found my eye and trust my eye to lead me to subjects that allow me to realize my own vision as a photographer.
Digital editing tools played an important role in my evolution as a photographer since they give me means of crafting images that go well beyond what was possible in the darkrooms where I began my journey. Like most photographers, my creative process has two phases: shooting and editing, taking and making photographs. The digital image I capture is a canvas I build upon: reshape and reposition, add or subtract elements; alter texture and colors; use light and composition to create effects. I choose to work on a fairly small scale - 8” x 10” prints - because I value the intimacy with the viewer that small scale affords.
It is exciting to view the raw image on a screen, envision what I can do with it, and use an array of powerful digital tools to realize that vision. Digital photography has given me the freedom to explore my creative potential and rediscover the love I have for making art.