I think it’s genetic that I am in the arts. My father is a dabbler artist. He’s been a painter, printmaker, sculptor, jeweler,collector and at 91, an award winning needlepoint artist. My mother was a collector and supporter of artists and arts organizations. My four brothers have all been involved in one fashion or another in the visual arts.
It’s also nurture
I come from a blended family, multi-cultural multi-racial. A true “California Family”, I call it my United Nations Family. We have Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Japanese, Filipino, Nepalese and the most recent addition, Armenian.
I, my siblings and my step siblings were all encouraged to be creative; we were all “exposed” to “culture” – everything from the Bolshoi to African dance. Growing up in Pasadena, my parents were members of the Pasadena Art Museum. We also frequently visited the Huntington Library and the LA County Museum of Art and even made the trek to the folk art of the Watts towers. The adults around me valued Art, so I did also.
My earliest memory about photography revolves around a trip to Disneyland. I was about 10 years old and was given access to a Kodak Instamatic camera for the trip. The finished prints that I got back from the drug store were very different from what I had seen at Disneyland. It was a surprise and a realization that the camera records things differently from what I expected. That disconnect / transformation of photographs versus the reality of what I saw showed me that the camera had a different way of looking at the world.
The snapshots from that Disneyland trip was one photograph that stood out. I took a photograph on the Jungle Cruise ride of an animatronic baby elephant sitting under a water fall playing. In the picture that I got back, it looked as if the elephant was sitting on the boat’s railing. I thought, “Wow! What else can I do with a camera?!” I was hooked. That image woke up the visual side of my brain to prints and images. It’s the crop. It’s the slicing view of the big picture into small areas that tell a story.
It’s that sliced composition that gives pleasure to the brain. What I saw may not be what the camera sees but I can adjust the camera’s setting and it’s point of view.
It’s my passion
At 18, in the spring of 1974, I went to a photography seminar sponsored by the Friends of Photography, in Carmel, CA. There were lectures by Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Bret Weston, Cole Weston, and Minor White, to name a few. My portfolio review session with Ralph Gibson and Arthur Taussig were pivotal to my career. Their insights helped me find my visual voice. San Francisco State University(SFSU) was perfect for me. It gave me every opportunity to develop artistically, academically, professionally and personally. At SFSU, Neal White, Don Worth, Ralph Putzker, Catherine Wagner, John Collier and especially Jack Welpott had great influences on my photographic approach and philosophy.
Art photography is a visual and when most successful, an emotional medium. Shot with a large format camera, most of my unmanipulated photographic images are quiet, still, sometimes stark. The photographs are very deliberate. I will look at a possible photograph for months. I am always looking for images. I look for the essence of what most would consider mundane and give it a visual perspective.
My current work starts there and through the magic of Photoshop, reveals a place for emotion, for meditation that the original image keeps hidden in its claim to existence in the real world. I began innocently trying to capture what I saw and to my surprise, produced what the camera saw. Now I capture what can only be felt, not just visually but emotionally, maybe even spiritually as well. The journey continues.