‘I remember thinking that if I could command such a thing, I should treat it with all the reverence and respect it deserved.’
Many photographers (of my generation) can recall the defining moment when their image first appears on a blank sheet of paper floating in a tray of developer. Ensconced within the womb-like darkroom, all of one’s senses are sharpened; the pleasant gurgling of the water bath, the smell of fixer (not so pleasant), the rhythmic clicking of the timer, the nurturing orange glow of the safe lights. As the image slowly comes to life, it almost seems to possess a spirit, and I remember thinking that if I could command such a thing, I should treat it with all the reverence and respect it deserved.
At the time, I was very aware of carrying on a tradition. In college, I resolved to learn from those who had felt a similar stirring from within. Edward Weston, Minor White, Harry Callahan, Frederick Sommer, Jerry Uelsmann and Aaron Siskind all spoke to me of the power of nature, the mystical unknown and transcendental experience that defies description. Other influences included Whitman, Thoreau and Zen Buddhism. I realized that Photography, as a means of expression, could reveal new meanings and new mysteries as well. Later, as I transitioned from the Black & White aesthetic to color, the lyric beauty of Eliot Porter and Ernst Haas drew me in. These formative experiences continue to influence my work today.
‘The result was startling–the roses became suffused with light, and the black background made the effect even more dramatic.’
In 2005, I was thinking about a long delayed project to photograph faded rose petals in a flattened, two-dimensional arrangement. I needed first to set up a table in my studio to photograph them with my 4×5 View Camera. The work was complicated and time consuming, so I put a lot of thought into how I would achieve what I had pictured in my mind. I knew that soft, even lighting would highlight the textures and faithfully reproduce the colors of my subject. This made me wonder what it would be like if I scanned the flowers. I spread a group of faded roses on the scanner glass and made my first scan. The result was startling–the roses became suffused with light, and the black background made the effect even more dramatic. To further enrich the image I made some careful adjustments in Adobe Photoshop to hue, saturation and contrast.
Since this humble beginning I have improved the process by carefully selecting and drying my own flowers and collecting interesting objects on my far ranging walks with our dog “Cricket.” I am continuing to explore the creative potential of this new medium whose unique properties offer so many exciting possibilities.