Thursday, October 28, 2010

Then, Now, and Tomorrow. Jane Jackson Converses with Chip Simone

By Richard Ediger

Few current Atlantans have hewn a wider path through the lush fields of photographic art than Jane Jackson. Chip Simone, in a continuation of his highly informative and entertaining Speaking of Photography series, invited Ms. Jackson to the art-filled walls of the Atlanta Photography Group Gallery the evening of October 21. Seated in front of a standing-room-only crowd, Jane Jackson and Chip Simone engaged in a lively conversation. We heard what a difference two decades has made in the fine art photography market. We learned what today’s emerging photographic artists need to do to maximize their potential. We were given a small glimpse into the collection of one of the most passionate of today’s collectors, Sir Elton John. It was a memorable evening that deserves to be remembered in print as well as in neurons.

Jane Jackson is in a unique position to observe the trends in the appeal of photographic art. Since 1988, the name of Jackson Fine Art has been on the tip of the tongue of anyone in the Southeast who has an interest in acquiring photographs as fine art. Over the next fifteen years collectors with an eye for the highest quality came to her. Seven years ago one of those collectors, Sir Elton John, made her the proverbial offer she couldn’t refuse. Now Ms. Jackson is the curator of Sir Elton’s personal collection of over 5000 prints.  Jackson Fine Art, now under the ownership of Anna Skillman, continues in the fine tradition of Jane Jackson in providing premier images to the discriminating collector.

The conversation between Jane Jackson and Chip Simone began with the question of how the photography market of twenty years ago differed from what it is today. Then, as now, Atlanta was the leading locale in the Southeast for the availability of photographic art. While important classic and contemporary work was available from Jane Jackson, Fay Gold, and Jay Crouse, the size of the clientele was much smaller than today. As the market base expanded and as photography grew in acceptance as a top-tier art form, the most visible change has been in pricing. Ms. Jackson related, “In 2000, you could have bought an Irving Penn Hand of Miles Davis for $5,000, and the same print sold earlier this month for $163,000.”

In another example, Sir Elton purchased Man Ray’s Glass Tears for $193,000, a record in 1993. Ms. Jackson stated that the same print today is worth about $2 million. Yet this trend is not universal. She went on to say that the classic Paul Caponigro prints have hardly increased in price at all during this period. According to her, the rationale behind this difference all comes down to availability. Irving Penn, along with Richard Avedon, was meticulous in limiting the number of prints produced from a given negative and in the number of dealers who were permitted to offer them. Low supply combined with high demand yields high price. Others, like Caponigro, produced a large volume of prints with the result that the price of their work has not appreciated to nearly the extent of Penn’s and others. If you didn’t know before why editioning is such a hot topic for the photographic artist, now you do.

Any discussion with Jane Jackson moves quickly to the topic of the Sir Elton John collection. Ms. Jackson, as his curator and buyer, is in a unique position to shed some light on the collection and how Sir Elton has managed to assemble some of the most important 20th century photographic masterpieces. Chip Simone was more than the moderator of the discussion Thursday night; he is an active participant in the collection. He not only wrote a wonderfully lucid article on the Chorus of Light exhibition of key pieces in Sir Elton’s collection at the High Museum in 2000, but twelve photographs of his own work have recently been purchased for the Sir Elton John collection.

So how does Sir Elton, as an entertainer, collect?  In two words: “with passion.” Consider André Kertész’s wondrously distorted 1917 Underwater Swimmer. Sir Elton acquired a 1970’s print of the image early on, but passion drove him to seek out not only a vintage print but the very first contact print, with crop marks, on which every subsequent print is based. Ms. Jackson told us “He’s an extremely passionate collector. He will spend his time educating himself.” This drive to acquire significant photographic work began in the early 1990’s when he was shown a portfolio of the sumptuous Horst P. Horst fashion work. As Chip stated in his article, Sir Elton “peered through the photographer’s window and saw his own humanity...The more he looked, the more he saw. “ (1)

Sir Elton’s collection, according to Jane Jackson, is very much tailored to his own interests: high fashion, portraits of entertainers, figure studies, and selected classics. Landscapes are few and far between, and 19th century pieces are not represented.  Yet Sir Elton follows his passion in acquiring contemporary artists that ring a bell somewhere in his head. An example is Ryan McGinley, one of the youngest artists to have a show at the Whitney Museum. Sir Elton initiated the purchase and Jane Jackson stated that she did not initially see what the work communicated. However, after living with several of the prints in her office for a while, “The more I looked at them every day, the more I understood what he was doing, and I thought they were fabulous.” This was a case where the one with the checkbook led the curator rather than the other way around.

The emerging photographers in the audience heard a lot to take away from the evening’s conversation, and some of it may not have been to their liking. While Sir Elton may acquire art on a visual, perhaps even visceral, basis the traditional gallery system may not be quite so free to move on feelings alone. Ms. Jackson related the story of a photographic artist who had developed a significant following in his home town. When his work was presented to a noted New York gallery, the question came up of “Where did you go to school?” It turned out that “self-taught” was not a valid answer and the artist went home without New York representation. While this emphasis on art education may seem rather arbitrary to some, Ms. Jackson pointed out that with the large amount of high quality art available today, one of the facets of the winnowing process is the presence of an advanced academic degree. She stated that a Master of Fine Arts degree must come with the territory if a young photographic artist expects to make the scene in a major New York gallery.

An advanced degree itself is only part of the package. Jane Jackson said that while on-the-job training may provide the technical proficiency to aim yourself toward the lofty heights you are seeking, academic training brings, among other things, the networking necessary to effectively market yourself.

Ms. Jackson said, too, that “Higher education helps you think.” This last statement may have raised a few eyebrows in the room. In the sometimes vociferous forum of Atlanta Photography Group Speaking of Photography discussions earlier this year, the question was asked whether studying the work of other artists helps or hinders personal creativity. The question was left mostly unanswered at the time but is certainly worth revisiting.

OK, the past and present took up most of the evening. What’s next? Ms. Jackson pointed out that “video is becoming  incredibly strong” as one of the new waves of photographic art. She referenced Joseph Guay’s recent exhibit at Jackson Fine Art that combines still photography and video in a particularly unique way.  Ms. Jackson pointed out that “The generation of kids in high school and college, they do films. They do films every day and put it on YouTube.”

Yet with all the analysis implied above, it is still the image that makes the art. In referring to a Harry Callahan image that she and Sir Elton recently purchased at auction, Ms. Jackson said, “The first thing is visual impact…You could see it across the room. It was beautiful and it was different.” If it jumps off the wall, and if it has that wow! factor, it may make it as an exceptional photograph. Now there is that little thing about an MFA …

Text other than direct quotations copyright 2010 by Richard Ediger

1.  The Rocketman’s Gift. Chip Simone. SPOT Magazine, Spring/Summer 2001, copyright The Houston Center of Photography. Used by permission of the author.

Jeff Rosenheim Speaks. “Don’t Toss That Picture Album.”

By Richard Ediger

In the embarrassment of photographic riches that is Atlanta in October, enthusiasts were treated to an evening of deeply meaningful images, engrossing exposition, and enlightening personal experience. Jeff Rosenheim, curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Photographs, provided 90 minutes of insights on October 22 at Emory University. As this year’s ACP 12 Knowledge Series event, Atlanta Celebrates Photography  jointly with Jackson Fine Art sponsored an in-depth discussion by Mr. Rosenheim. He not only reviewed the history of the Metropolitan’s photography collection and the cultural significance of photography, but he also made a personal plea for the listeners to value those picture albums sitting on the top shelf of their spare bedrooms.

5000 Cartier Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2005
Robert Polidori, 2005 (2)
The evening began with a rather staggering series of color images captured by Robert Polidori three weeks After the Flood, as his 2006 exhibition at the Metropolitan was named. We have all seen image after image of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina on the lives, homes, and hearts of New Orleans. But somehow in that dark auditorium we benefited from the deeper look provided by Polidori and by Mr. Rosenheim’s poignant consideration of the images (1)

Jeff Rosenheim stated that Robert Polidori’s work, “...became a meditation on the fragility of contemporary life.” Somehow I don’t believe that the term fragility is in any way meant to portray frailty or meaninglessness. Rather it describes life as the preciousness of a Faberge egg, or as a dandelion ready to be dispersed by a warm gust of wind. The After the Flood images are, for Mr. Rosenheim, a prime example of the photographer’s role of witness. He questioned, “What do we ask of our great artists with a camera? What is the role of the camera and how do artists respond?” The answers are in the art of witnesses such as Robert Polidori.

Men’s Fashions
Eugéne Atget, 1925 (3)
The transition from the highly emotional images of New Orleans to the languid streets of Eugéne Atget’s Paris in the 1920’s was abrupt. Yet Jeff Rosenheim smoothed the way by pointing out that Atget, like Polidori, “...attempted to photograph the social facts of his time as he understood it...This is what I hold photographers working today understand and report the social facts of our time.”

The Atget photograph shown during this discussion could be seen as simple entertainment. It is a prototypical example of the widely used genre of reflection. Yet it goes to greater depths when seen as an allegorical statement. It is, as Mr. Rosenheim states, “...a transparent lamination of the real and artificial, outdoor and indoor, fluid and static, shimmer and substance. It dissolves traditional boundaries between fact and imagination. That is what photography does so well.”

Abstraction, Twin Lakes, Connecticut
Paul Strand, 1916 (4)
Here we see one of the first truly abstract photographs, by Paul Strand in 1916. It is an altered scene with a tipped table placed to provide a pleasing play of light and shadow. Mr. Rosenheim points out that, “ does not depend on recognizable imagery for its effect, but rather on the precise relations of forms within the frame.” Here, Strand is not “fooling the eye” such as Atget does in the previous image, but rather he leads the eye to patterns that, while they obviously exist, are not part of the way in which most casual observers typically see the world. Yet those of us who are artists, by either training or by innate sense, often do see our surroundings in the abstract way exemplified by Stand’s image. That, in essence, is what makes us artists.

Jeff Rosenheim described two years of curating and researching a seminal private collection that changed the way he looked at photographs, even after having previously worked with photography for many years. The Gilman Paper Company collection was filled with exceedingly rare 19th century photographs. This collection and the 1993 The Waking Dream exhibition derived from it, as Mr. Rosenheim stated,  “...was a game-changer for the Metropolitan and for the field of photography.” The museum spent the next decade and a half trying to acquire the collection of some 6000 photographs. Finally in 2007 the Gilman Collection became the jewel of the Metropolitan’s photographic crown.

Cape Horn near Celilo
Carleton E. Watkins, 1867 (5)
Of the many 19th century photographs subsequently displayed and discussed by Mr. Rosenheim, perhaps the one that speaks most strongly to modern photographic sensibilities is an albumen print by Carleton Watkins. This was captured on the Columbia River in 1967, a hundred miles upstream from Portland. The juxtaposition of light and dark, with strong positive and negative spaces, is certainly apparent. It could have come from the West Coast school of the mid-20th century rather than from a documentarian employed by a steamship company eighty years before. Like so many photographs however there may be more to it than meets the eye. The Metropolitan, in its web-based description of the image, states that, “ might instead interpret the picture as a visual metaphor for Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States was destined to span the continent with its sovereignty.” This interpretation harkens back to Mr. Rosenheim’s premise that photography is the lamination between real and artificial. The real was the displacement of Native Peoples, and the artificial was the purported divine imperative to do so.

The next few minutes showed us the type of 1950’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s images so many of us saw in our parents’ photo albums: sisters, grandparents, neighbors, even the milkman. These images are, for Mr. Rosenheim, “a window into my childhood” for these were photographs captured by him beginning at age five. They are his witness of the social facts of his time. As an integral part of him as an individual, they are tangible memories of not so much of time that is past, but of time that formed what he is today. Mr. Rosenheim maintains that these photographic pieces of culture are crucial for teaching us from where we came. “I am sure that each of you have your own albums. They should never be thrown away. But when you decide you have to, call me…it is one of the most rich troves of cultural history that I know.” He went on to point out, perhaps somewhat wryly, that it is hard to collect someone’s Facebook page.

Of all the passions that Jeff Rosenheim has pursued, the one that has been his primary work as a curator is Walker Evans. Since the late 1970’s Mr. Rosenheim has dug deeply into the Walker Evans legacy. This journey has resulted in the publication of ten books on this prolific and wide-ranging photographer. The negatives, papers, and picture postcard collection of Walker Evans were acquired from his heirs in 1994. This acquisition, according to Mr. Rosenheim, is a “veritable American treasure...Evans did record the present as if it were the past...He photographed the American scene, I would argue, with the nuance of a poet though with the precision of a surgeon.”

Like Polidori today and Atget over a century before, Evans in the 1930’s communicated his land to anyone with the eyes to see it. Mr. Rosenheim states “he was one of the most original minds of the 20th century…The ideas he elaborated transcend their time and place...He had such an understanding of his culture and he got that from reading it on the street, by paying attention…by spending time out on the land.”

Barber Shop interior, Atlanta Georgia
Walker Evans, 1936 (6)
The Walker Evans image seen here was exposed in 1936 in Atlanta. Although there is not a soul visible in the photograph, it breathes life so vibrantly that anyone can feel its heartbeat. Go to the Metropolitan site that documents this photograph and use the zoom controls to explore the details of the barber shop. See the hat on the table, the bag that possibly contains the barber’s lunch, and read the newspaper headlines.  This is life.

My wife Jill relates that at the August meeting of Atlanta’s Women in Focus group Anna Skillman of Jackson Fine Art revealed what she values in a photograph. Among other things, she likes images that have people in them, or that say that they have people in them.  This Walker image says “people” to the same vast extent that Polidori’s New Orleans image does. Someone lives here. Not in the past tense but in the present, though nearly 75 years have passed since the Walker Evans image, and only a few in the case of Polidori.

Jeff Rosenheim capped off the evening with Diane Arbus. The Metropolitan has recently acquired her negatives, proof sheets, notebooks and ephemera. You can see years of study and research ahead for Mr. Rosenheim as he seeks to document the Arbus legacy as completely as he has for Walker Evans. Her artistry, he says, "...tells us who we are, how we people become who we want to be." This last statement could be the mantra for all who appreciate the fine art that is photography.

1.  All images in this article have been accessed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website in compliance with their Fair Use Terms and Conditions.
2.  Chromogenic print. Collection of the artist
3.  Silver Gelatin Print, printed 1956. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. David McAlpin Fund, 1956
4.  Silver-Platinum Print. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987. Copyright 1997, Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive
5.  Albumen silver print from glass negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gilman Collection, Purchase. The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, 2005
6.  Film Negative. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Walker Evans Archive, 1994

Text other than direct quotations copyright Richard Ediger 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spotlight on Anne Berry. Letting the Animals Speak for Themselves

By Richard Ediger

Spotlight on Anne Berry.
© Richard Ediger 2010
Look at an Anne Berry photograph. It’s difficult to walk away without feeling that there is something important going on behind the image. Consider her Baboon in Window photograph that is mounted in the Atrium of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as part of the Atlanta Photography Group Airport Show exhibit. Yes, it’s beautiful and maybe even haunting. But there is something else there – something deeper that begs attention.
Baboon in Window.
© Anne Berry 2009
Finally, letting the image speak for itself, you realize that what is being communicated here is empathy. There is a connection between the viewer and the baboon that goes beyond seeing. It is almost a shared experience. We may not know what the animal in the window is thinking, but we seem to know on some level what it is feeling. This theme of empathy runs through many of Anne’s animal photographs and is core to her personal philosophy.
Anne and I spent a picture-perfect October morning together walking the bamboo-lined walkways of Zoo Atlanta with our cameras, talking about animals and her depiction of them in her photographic art. Zoo Atlanta takes Anne back to her childhood when her mother took her there almost weekly. There she learned to know the animals and their keepers. Befriending the zookeepers, Anne regularly fed the baby tigers and began to learn the beauty of sharing the planet with our animal companions.
Baby tigers led to horses. Anne was a competitive equestrian at an early age and her study and love of horses grew through college and into a master’s degree in horse science and literature at the University of Georgia. Extensive studies of both photography and art were additional key aspects of her academic training.
A lifetime of caring about animals has given Anne a strong sense of animal conservation. She says, “Conservation of species is a vital component of biodiversity, which is vital for the survival of our planet.” Her photographic vision, in many ways, is a direct outcome of her personal emphasis of animal conservation. You can tell it in her images. Go to her website, and review her portfolios. You are likely to sense much of the same empathy that Anne has for her subjects. Anne points out that sharing empathy with the animals we experience around us enriches our own lives, for “the animals ask questions for which there are no easy answers, but silently they are asking us to consider them.”
For Anne though, words speak as loudly as pictures. Travel to her blog, and experience the stories behind the images. Learn how a photograph of a dog with a bandage can “ …speak the language of emotions, to touch to the world of metaphor, dreams, and mystery.” Discover why Anne’s images have a square format. Find out who said “Art is something which, although produced by human hands, is not created by these hands alone, but something which wells up from a deeper source in our souls.” For Anne, words and images go side-by-side. She states that her blog is a “vehicle for writing about an image when I have something to say that helps me clarify what I think about my work.”
The practice of animal conservation, to Anne, means more that just making beautiful photographs. Last year she worked with the Kangaroo Conservation Center in Dawsonville Georgia to capture images of kangaroos in their quiet moments. She then used the images to illustrate Rudyard Kipling’s “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo” in a book. Proceeds of the sale of the book go directly to the Kangaroo Conservation Center, further illustrating Anne’s commitment to animal welfare.
Along with understanding the circumstance of animals, sometimes misunderstanding by others can also occur. Take her photography of a kangaroo simply enjoying the sun. Someone once asked “Is that kangaroo dead?” As if we didn’t already know it, a photograph is always an interpretation that overlays the viewer’s own prejudices into the image.
© Anne Berry 2009
At the end of October she and Will, her husband, plan travel from their home in Newnan to South Africa. Anne intends to collaborate with both the Baboon Matters Foundation in Cape Town and the Center for Animal Rehabilitation in Phalaborwa (beside “the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River”; do you know your Kipling?) to create a book of images that will support their work in baboon conservation.
While Anne is mostly about animals, she says that there is another side to her wanderings. A family tradition started by her grandmother often puts her in cemeteries, appreciating the soulful statuary and the meanings behind them. Anne says, “Cemeteries are like museums without all the people.” This practice of hers can occasionally lead to interesting experiences. Not once, but twice, she and her husband have been locked in cemeteries in foreign countries after closing time. Sometimes following a passion has its challenges.

Portfolio reviews also have their moments. In a recent event, one image of three aligned swans in particular drew strong comments from nearly all of the reviewers. The trouble is, half of them loved it and half hated it. Go figure.

Given the artistic appeal of Anne’s animals, it is not surprising that acknowledgement has come her way. The Airport Show is only the most recent. She’s been in the Atlanta Photography Group’s Anne Cone-Skelton Selects and In Your Dreams exhibitions, Slow Exposures 2010, Mason Murer’s Atlanta Showcase, and she took first place in the 2009 Atlanta Flower Show. Her work has also received a Julia Margaret Cameron 2009 award and has been published, among others, in Silvershotz Magazine (Vol 3, Ed 6), SHOTS (#104 and #108) and the Photo District News Best Friends competition.

So, you may agree with me that there is more to an Anne Berry photograph than meets the eye. They, as she says, sound an inner note that the viewer's emotion will hear. 

Text other than direct quotations copyright Richard Ediger 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jerry Uelsmann Speaks. The Top Ten Notable Quotations

By Richard Ediger

To see the full-house crowd at the Georgia Tech Paper Museum auditorium on October 14, you would think that internationally famous entertainers were on the stage. And that was indeed the case. Few in the audience were disappointed by the entertaining banter between artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor in their “Just Suppose” lecture. This event was co-sponsored by Atlanta Celebrates Photography and the Art Institute of Atlanta as a keynote event of the ACP 12 celebration that engrosses the entire city of Atlanta during October.
We heard not a lecture, but a lighthearted conversation by and between two renowned artists. Jerry Uelsmann is a long-time practitioner of highly-tuned darkroom skills to create surrealistic photocomposites. In his work the line between reality and fantasy is difficult to discern. “How did he do that?” is the thought that almost invariably comes to mind when viewing one his pieces. The answer is “with stacks of negatives, multiple enlargers, scissors, masks, and a whole lot of dodging and burning.” Look, Mom. No Photoshop™.
On the other hand, if there ever were a Queen of Photoshop, it is Maggie Taylor. As an Adobe Master Class scholar, she is highly respected for creating images that are as fantastical as those of Jerry Uelsmann. Yet she does this not by bending light, but by bending pixels. What a sideshow. See a fish in Edwardian dress, a garment of butterflies ticking an otherwise unclothed woman, and hedgehogs in places where they just shouldn’t be.
A close look at the work of Mr. Uelsmann and Ms. Taylor shows a lot of similar visual elements. In fact they are not only similar but identical. It’s almost as if the Uelsmann-Taylor duo share the same kitchen table – which indeed they do. That explains a lot of the good-natured back and forth between them on the stage.
But today’s discussion is not so much about the Maggie and Jerry Show, but about the words of Jerry Uelsmann. One quotable statement after another rolled effortlessly off his tongue all evening. Here is what could be considered as the Top Ten list.
10. Photography is just light remembering itself.

Think about this for a moment. Can you come up with a more poetic half dozen words that so completely define what goes on in a camera, scanner, or graphics processing software program?
9. The interesting thing about art is that there is more than one answer.

Does anyone who has ever submitted artwork to a juried show ever doubted this statement? What was the juror looking for anyway? One judge might want “eye-capturing luminosity”, another “an abiding sense of passion”, and a third might say “a distinct edginess.” You can’t pin down what is wanted because there are so many ways of looking at a piece of art. Quote #9 says this so clearly and so concisely.
8. The camera is a license to explore.

This quote is actually a near-duplicate of a statement that Mr. Uelsmann made in a 2007 interview for Shutterbug. Here is a continuation of what he said during that interview. “There are no uninteresting things. There are just uninterested people. For me to walk around the block where I live could take 5 minutes. But when I have a camera, it could take five hours”. Enough said.

Given Mr. Ueslmann’s reputation for being at the very pinnacle of creating highly complex and convincing photocomposites by using only his formidable classical darkroom skills, the following two statements took many in the audience by surprise.

7. If I were twenty years younger, I would definitely be working in the digital world.

6. You should be using Photoshop these days.

Heresy? Or perhaps it is just the result of sharing a home with perhaps one of today’s most noted digital artists.

Here’s a question for you. Do you know which well-known Uelsmann photograph has a digital photographic element in it that was actually created by Maggie Taylor? No fair answering if you were at the lecture.

5. It is the illusion of knowledge, not ignorance, that keeps one from growing.

4. All knowledge is self-reflective.

3. It is not the task of the artist to resolve mysteries. In fact, it is his job to create more.

Oh boy, these could have come from the mouth of an esteemed philosopher. Come to think of it, I guess they did. Mr. Uelsmann does have a way with words that ring true.

You could certainly call Jerry Uelsmann’s stage presence “playful.” Philosophical truisms were frequently interspersed with a wink and a laugh. Consider the #2 quote of the evening.

2. I have a friend who likes to date younger women because their stories are shorter.

I think I need to be cautious in commenting on that one, so I won’t.

And the number one quotation came as a response to a question from the audience. “What little tricks do you use in the darkroom?” The answer came quickly …

1.        A glass of wine helps.

It is certainly true that both Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor re-use many of their visual elements over multiple pieces. Boats frequently float, or more correctly, levitate in many of Mr. Uelsmann’s photocomposites. One could also lay the re-use comment on his quotations. Those fortunate enough to snag a copy of his hot-off-the-press book, The Mind's Eye, will discover many of the quotations he used at the Paper Museum scattered among the images. I guess that if it’s good once, it must be good twice.

Text other than Jerry Uelsmann quotations copyright Richard Ediger 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Who Am I?

What happens when you take a senior-level research scientist who has spent 40 years working with the crystalline black and white logic of the scientific method, and give him a camera? He becomes a black and white photographer of course.

After a few forays with my wife Jill and my camera to France, the California wine country, and American Southwest, a small body of work accumulated. Eventually I became comfortable enough in my own photographic skin to try to throw my art to the wolves. It turned out that instead of a bite, I got a lick on the cheek. B&W Magazine, in the February 2007 issue, honored me with the publication of two images, one a Silver Award. Thus encouraged, I moved ahead with refining my eye and my technique.

After a short hiatus caused by a move from the Northeast to Atlanta, and by the rigors of completing the construction of a new home, I picked up where I left off and began submitting work to juried exhibitions in the Atlanta and North Georgia areas in early 2009.  Gradually the shows began to stack up and by the end of the year four invited or juried exhibitions were under my belt.  These included an invited two-person show with my wife Jill at the Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega that featured images gathered while following our palates along California wine trails. Jill, even before me, began to gain accolades for her own black and white photography.

Late in 2009 I came to realize that the world comes in colors. While not abandoning black and white, a bit of color – sometimes quite a bit of color – entered my art. Again sampling the winds of opinion, I submitted a few pieces to Color Magazine. Lo and behold, one image was indeed published in the May 2010 Single Image special issue. I guess color now has a place in my photographic repertoire.

Nearly simultaneously with the news from Color, a handwritten note arrived from the Executive Director of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville Georgia inviting Jill and I to visit her and to bring our portfolios. We walked out of the meeting with an offer to “fill the walls” of one of the four galleries in the Quinlan with a husband-and-wife exhibition. So, in August 2010, 48 images in both color and black and white went up in an exhibition we named Amalgam. More shows came our way shortly thereafter. The most recent is the Portfolio Show of the Atlanta Photography Group, juried by Dr. Anthony Bannon of the George Eastman House. Both Jill and I submitted separately, and both she and I were accepted for this major show that opens in December. Cool!

Firmly believing that a photographer benefits from a sense of community, I joined the Atlanta Photography Group early in 2010 to share ideas, opinions, and skills. A few exhibitions, discussions, and volunteer activities later, the thought came to share some of what I see in fine art photography in Atlanta with others of a like mind. Hence the Random Radiance blog was born.

OK, now with the self-serving stuff out of the way, let's begin.

Connecting the Dots in Atlanta Photography

Some make annual pilgrimages to the Meccas of fine art photography: New York, Paris, LA, San Francisco and a few others. Yet for many, Atlanta is still one pretty exciting location for fine art photography collectors, curators, and artists. The list of galleries, museums, educational institutions and event locations is impressively long. Plus, the Atlanta Celebrates Photography umbrella organization is amazingly thorough and diverse in their support of the photographic arts. Artist-supported groups such as the Atlanta Photography Group sponsor outstanding exhibitions and informational events that do wonderful things to increase the accessibility of high quality photographic art to the community at large.

While some important regional arts blogs frequently reference area photographic events, it is perhaps time for a photographic artist to dig deeper into the vibrant activities going on in Atlanta and the surrounding environs. I have raised my hand as one who is excited to give local color what is going on here. Random Radiance is the vehicle I have chosen to connect the dots among those who have an interest in keeping themselves informed about some of the photographic arts activities, large and small, within the area. There is no intention of providing thorough coverage of all significant events, (the ACP Now! blog does that) just a few that strike my fancy from time to time. In addition there will be occasional postings spotlighting some of the area photographers who seem to be running on all cylinders lately and may be on their way to increased recognition outside of the Atlanta arts community.

As a fine art photographer (whatever that term means) myself, I am not above spending a little time talking about my own work and my own opinions. After all, if those of us who are photographers didn’t want others to know of the way we look at the world, we wouldn’t exhibit our art, would we?

So, Random Radiance is off and running. Stay up with me and enjoy the ride. And by the way, take a look at my website,, if you’re curious about my art, and the next blog posting to see where I’m coming from.