Space and Light, Photographer Angie McMonigal

Buckingham Fountain by Angie McMonigal

Buckingham Fountain by Angie McMonigal

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMongial is one of the photographers in this years Depth of Field. 

During our first call for submissions we had the pleasure of meeting Angie McMonigal. 

We are happy to present her art here. 

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

grew up in a small, rural town in central Wisconsin but since 2000 have spent most of my time living in Chicago.  It was a wonderful way to grow up but I have always felt so much more comfortable in large cities; there’s just something about the energy of a large city that is so appealing.

My college degree was in Medical Technologyquite far from anything artistic, but photography was always something I had an interest in but wasn’t able to pursue until a bit later.

I am a wife and mother of two small children, my daughter is 5 and my son is 2, so finding time to pursue photography to the extent I’d like to is oftentimes challenging.

How did you get started photography?

In high school I had always wanted to take the photography class my school offered but my family instilled in me that I needed to pursue an education and career in something more practical…something I was sure to get a job in after college.  So instead of taking the more interesting photography elective I’m sure I ended up in a physics or an advanced chemistry class..same for my college courses.  The course schedule for my college degree was pretty rigorous with little room for elective courses, and the cost to buy a camera while putting myself through college just wasn’t an option at the time.  But I do remember my roommate taking photography and so wishing I was the one taking that class!

However, after college, in 2001, my boyfriend, now husband, bought me my first SLR!  Early on I mainly shot vacation photos and occasionally around my new hometown of Chicago. But within a year or two I began teaching myself as much about photography as I could through magazines, books and simply trial and error.  I took a few courses at the Chicago Photography Center and was shooting, developing and printing all my images in the darkroom during that time.  also had my first group show there in 2005.  It was all very exciting and fun and I knew this is what I really wanted to be doing.

In 2006, I converted to digital and the new learning curve, along with my first pregnancy and a move to Milwaukee, slowed things down a bit.  I had my first child, and many of my friends were having children, so naturally started doing more portrait work.  With that, my initial goals in fine art photography took a little detour for 5-6 years and I almost exclusively shot family and children’s portraiture.

In 2011, we moved back to Chicago !  I took this opportunity to shift my focus back to fine art photographywhich is what I’m most passionate about.  In the last year and a half I‘ve spent my time developing my style and discovering what interests me most in photography.

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal Photography

What is it about architectural photography that inspires you?

Having grown up in a much different environment than I currently live, I still find myself in complete awe of the city, it’s skyscrapers and unique architecture.  I think that aspect helps me to see the city and the urban landscape with a fresh perspective, and I enjoy finding interesting vantage points to shoot the broader landscape.

However, much of my work focuses on the lines and patterns within the architecture.  I love seeing how a building changes form depending on where I’m standing or by isolating patterns and lines within it’s design.  Most of all I love seeing these buildings in a new way and hope to help the viewer see things in a new way as well.

Which photographers work do admire?

I recently discovered Martin Stavars’ work and I’m a huge fan.  His series “Megalopolis” is amazing but all of his work is very tied together in style, whether it’s the urban landscape or natural landscape.  I love how he captures the world’s urbanlandscapes at a moment in time, which I feel is important given how fast our cities change.  The mood of his images is purposeful and consistent.

Joel Tjintjelaar is a phenomenal photographer of architecture.  I love the dark, moodiness of his images, the way he processes his work is such an art.  Every image of his is a true inspiration and pushes me to keep shooting what I love.

Would you tell us about your workspace?

In terms of the photography I do, that is all on location work.  My workspace dedicated to editing and processing is not the most ideal at the time and consists of a small, mostly dedicated space in the kitchen.  Given that I have two small children they need much of my attention throughout the day, I need my computer and equipment to be easily accessible so I’m able to grab a moment of work whenever I can.  This space is centrally located to all my kids’ favorite places to play.  One day maybe I’ll have a room of my own to escape to for more concentrated work.

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

Photographers are clearly very visual people who have a great understanding of light.  I know that whether I’m out with my camera or not I’m always seeing the light and how it‘s affecting the environment, noticing shadows, seeing the way light is falling on buildings, water, trees, anything really and the details this light reveals or hides.  I’m always noticing patterns or ways in which to see a scene within the camera frame, even without a camera to my eye.  When I watch movies I always notice the angles and ways in which the director utilizes light.  I’m constantly seeing still frames within a film that would make a great photograph.

When working on your personal work would you please share your editing process?

I typically do my initial processing in LR3 where I do simple adjustments, WB, exposure, contrast, clarity and noise reduction if necessary.  Then I process most images to some degree in CS6.  I don’t do a huge amount of post-processing but I think cleaning them up and enhancing them with basic adjustments gives them a more polished presence.

Is there another type of photography or subject matter you would like tackle?

Most of my interest lies in urban photographythe urban landscape and architecture.  But I do enjoy landscape photography, particularly minimalistic landscapes.  I think if I lived in a more rural environment I’d spend much more time creating this type of photography.  I also find street photography fascinating but highly intimidating.  I so admire photographers that excel at this.

Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects ?

The best place to see my work is my website, www.angiemcmonigal.com and my blogI also post some of my work to 500pxFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Flickr.

There are a couple of projects I see as continuing for quite sometime, ‘Architectural Street’ and ‘Architectural Abstracts’.  I don’t see my interest in conveying architecture in new and unique ways diminishing anytime soon

Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal Photography

Milwaukee Art Museum - Abstract - Angie McMonigal Photography

Milwaukee Art Museum – Abstract – Angie McMonigal Photography

Angie McMonigal

Angie McMonigal

 Thank you Angie for sharing your art and your time. 
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David Burnett Gallery

 

© David Burnett

© David Burnett

 

To learn more about the photography of David Burnett please visit his site. David Burnett Photographer

Photojournalist David Burnett

Thank you to the photographers who show us the world.

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Where the Work is Made

Jesseca Ferguson, Creating

Winter Garden© J.Ferguson

Winter Garden© Jesseca Ferguson

Jesseca Ferguson is one of the photographers whose work is in Depth of Field. 

Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of artist Jesseca Ferguson.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

Of course – I’d be happy to give you some background info.  Thanks for your interest in my work.  I am honored to have my work included on your site.  First of all, I need to explain that I am an artist who uses photography – I don’t really feel I am a photographer, as I have never taken a photo class and do not come from a photo background.  You could certainly call me a pinhole photographer – that works!  I feel I am a bricoleur, a visual arts handyman/handywoman if you will.  I am an assembler and arranger – whether of objects to photograph, or of materials (including photographs) to collage/connect together.

How did you get started in photography?

I had been making collages and drawings for a while, having started out as a weaver and hand papermaker.  In the late 1980’s I was using found images:  old photo postcards, images culled from old books, cartes de visite, and 19th century travel photos.  I was frustrated by their small sizes and thought there must be some way to make my own photos, at a larger scale.  Thanks to the kindness of photographer friends, I found my way to pinhole photography and handmade photo processes.  I especially want to thank Eric Renner for his help and encouragement when I first began working with pinhole cameras in 1991 and along the way ever since then.  He published some of my early images in “Pinhole Journal” and included my images in his wonderfully informative book, Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique.  Eric has supported many pinhole photographers in this way.

By strange coincidence, when I was in art school (Massachusetts College of Art and Design BFA 1981, in Fibers), I had a part-time job at the Clarence Kennedy Gallery at Polaroid, in Cambridge, MA.  I had the privilege of working for Linda Benedict-Jones, the gallery director. Linda is now Curator of Photography at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, after being director of Silver Eye Gallery, also in Pittsburgh.  At the time I had no interest in photography other than to document my own work with slides.  However, I really enjoyed the images on view in the gallery while I worked there – David Hockney’s photo collages, Julia Margaret Cameron’s portraits, Robert Mapplethorpe’s images self-portraits, etc.  I was exposed to the treasures in the Polaroid Collection, which was housed behind the gallery.  I never dreamed that I would later work in photography myself, even using the Polaroid 20×24 camera as a pinhole camera on several occasions!  Polaroid supported my pinhole work with several film grants, acquired my images for their collection, put my images on their website, etc.  I will always be grateful for their help.

Which photographers and other artists work do admire?

I gravitate towards the work of different artists at different times, depending on what I need to look at, what resonates with me at any given time

Here are some favorite artists in various media, in no particular order:
Horst Janssen, Hans Memling, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Cornell, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Lenore Tawney, Michelle Stuart, Jim Hodges, Charles Ledray, Tim Rollins and K.O.S.( Kids of Survival).

Some photographers whose work I have found sustaining and inspiring over the years:

Josef Sudek, Duane Michals, Bogdan Konopka, Eugene Atget, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Rinko Kawauchi, Anna Atkins, William Henry Fox Talbot, Rosamond Purcell, Gertrude Kasebier, Masao Yamamoto, John Dugdale, Pinky Bass, John O’Reilly (collage artist as well).

A dear mentor figure for me and many others was the late John Wood (1922-2012).  John was a photographer, printmaker, watercolorist, draftsman, book artist, political conscience, whittler, teacher and visual poet.  I was lucky enough to take a workshop with him at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester in 1989 or 1990.  What he taught us in that week was, for me at that time in my life, truly life-changing. Seeing him and his work over the years was very special.  “On the Edge of Clear Meaning (2009)” is a complete catalogue of his work (and includes a DVD of interviews, etc.) which accompanied several retrospectives at the end of his life.

And what about their work inspires you?

I respond to a quality of light and darkness in the work, often with an implied or overt narrative.  These artists all exhibit devotion and dedication to their studios, plus a deep sensitivity to the human condition in general.  I am most compelled by artists who experiment with materials (especially artist books and images) in order to tell their story – not simply for the sake of experimentation or trendiness.  I seek out work that calls me back to look at it again – work that reveals itself to me over time, inviting me to ponder it further.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?

Josef Sudek’s life-long series of images taken in his studio are unforgettable.  They are more about a mood or an atmosphere or a state of mind than about any specific place or object.  I also am moved by Hippolyte Bayard’s self-portrait as a drowned man – so ahead of its time!  A very special favorite is John Adams Whipple’s 1852 daguerreotype of the moon taken through a telescope at Harvard Observatory.

Josef Sudek

Josef Sudek © Josef Sudek Atelier

If no one saw your work, would you still create it?

Absolutely – I make my work because I need to see it!  I can become morose and restless when I am not making something.  I truly enjoy the sense of discovery and invention when making new work.  I relish the problem solving and absorption in the process.  (When things are going well, that is!)

Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day of photography is for you.

Sometimes the perfect day does not even involve photography.  That day may involve scouting around at a flea market or in a used bookstore for materials.  The hunt for items I can use is another form of studio work for me.  Or when I find a paper that works well – at last! – for whatever it is that I am trying to print, make, or do.  Recently I had a wonderful day which involved going to a local museum with an artist friend, talking about what we had seen, then coming back to the studio to experiment with gum prints, having coffee, talking some more.  I see each day like a bead in a necklace: all contribute to the beauty of the whole.  No one day is any more perfect than any other.

Please tell us about your cyanotypes.

“Simple ain’t easy” comes to mind when I think of cyanotype, which many people dismiss as a technique for beginners or kids.  Yes, it is easy to get some kind of an image with cyanotype – but a good, compelling, well-printed and nuanced image?  Therein lies the challenge!

Anna Atkins is my heroine – the first woman photographer, who self-published the first photographically illustrated book in 1843: Photographs of British Algae:  Cyanotype Impressions printed exquisitely in cyanotype.  And cyanotype was truly cutting edge photo technology as it had only been discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842!

I love the simplicity of cyanotype photograms (used in a recent artist book I made for Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here) but getting perfect tonal ranges with classic cyanotype can involve dodging & burning . . . . I love the Ware method but have had limited success mixing it myself, so stick with the classic version.  Paper choices are critical.  Recently I have discovered new papers (cotton & linen) from Ruscombe Mills in France – beautiful for printing cyanotype but alas expensive!

What challenges do you face as a photographer?

When I am wearing my pinhole photography hat, I worry about the disappearance of large format B&W film, which is what I have been using for years – and also the chemistry to process it (which I do myself).  Yes, films are disappearing!  I am also working with gum printing a bit lately – new challenges there – technical and otherwise.  I am reading various books for paper recommendations, advice, etc.  Fun to do the research and try to get a technique to work for a project you have in mind.

With the rapid changes in how people make and view a photograph, how do you view this time in the history of photography?

I find this a very exciting time because we can hybridize techniques from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  The renaissance in handmade processes – the classic versions or the reconfigured new versions – plus digital technologies, the invention of new papers – I find it all very lively and invigorating.  In some ways, our time is a lot like the days surrounding the invention of photography:  new technical advances, techniques becoming obsolete as others come along.

Today there are many people now who have never seen or used film, and for whom the terms negative/positive mean nothing in terms of how the image is built.  When these people have a chance to contact print – even with a digital negative – there can be a true “aha” moment.

Sometimes I worry that the sheer instantness of digital imagery, and always seeing images on a screen, may rob the art form of its tactile qualities.  Is there an impoverishment here?  Yet –then I see the work of Ori Gerscht and others, and am intrigued.  People have always yearned for an image of the absent beloved or what is in the past (person, location, event).  This desire sparked the invention of photography (which evolved from painted miniatures, in a sense).  I am sure that photography will continue to evolve in new and exciting ways that we cannot even imagine today.

Interestingly, hand-held computers/phones are about the size and weight of early daguerreotypes or ambrotypes in cases, but I think rapid fire viewing (and photographing) with one’s phone is very different from the more formal processes of making, taking, and viewing photos in earlier eras.

How do you overcome a creative block?

A good question for any artist!  Are you asking about “what do I do when I am stuck – technically or aesthetically – when in the midst of a particular project?  Or do you mean when I am in some form of stasis between projects?  Either way – my solutions are similar.  I like to go to museums or galleries, or spend some time with books – old favorites and new names as well.  Roaming around, looking at things – not necessarily photography.  Also I like to speak with other artist friends, go to a gallery together, or maybe visit them in their studios to see what they are up to.  Some “down time” is necessary, but that is not necessarily a “creative block.”  I like to refuel and refresh the mind, the eyes, and the soul periodically.  Listening to music and reading can help also, as can travel.  Cleaning up my studio is also another good way to make room for something new.

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

I am a big believer in cultural diplomacy.  I think that making and/or exhibiting art together is a wonderful way to connect people across boundaries and borders of all kinds – linguistic, cultural, ideological.  (Daniel Barenboim conducting concerts with Arabs, Israelis, Germans come to mind.)  I have been involved with pinhole photography exchanges with Polish photographers since 1998, and have found that experience to be eye, mind, and heart opening.  In 2013, I became involved with Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, an ongoing international book arts project commemorating the 2007 car bombing of Baghdad’s legendary street of booksellers.  I have connected me with international book artists.

 © Jesseca Ferguson

© Jesseca Ferguson

Where can we see your work?

Thanks for asking!

There are some images on my website.

Right now my work is in a few group exhibitions. The Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, up through March 2015, includes four of my images. This exhibition (and the catalogue with excellent essays by Roy Flukinger and others) celebrates the Pinhole Resource Collection, assembled by pinhole artists extraordinaire, Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer, and now part of the museum’s photo collection.  A must see show and catalogue for pinhole enthusiasts!

Some of my work can be found in books about handmade photography.  The most recent example is Photography Beyond Technique: Essays from the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes, edited and with an introduction by Tom Persinger (April 2014).  I wrote an essay, “The Photograph as Reliquary,” which talks about my ideas and process. Tom’s focus was on the “why” rather than the “how” of handmade photo.  I recommend this book to any of your readers interested in handmade photography in the 21st century.

Thank you Jesseca  for sharing your work and words.

To learn more about Jesseca Ferguson’s work please visit her site at,The Museum of Memory.

To learn more about the work of Josef Sudek please visit Atelier Josefa Sudka .

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Photographer, Vicki Wilson Hunt

Wilderness Arch by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Wilderness Arch by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Vicki Wilson Hunt is one of the photographers in this years Depth of Field. 

Quiet moments in the gentle rocking of a porch swing, enjoying the shade and the coolness of a glass of lemonade.

Snapping green beans in to a white enamel bowl while chatting with the kit and kin.

Cotton aprons and quilts swaying on the clothes line.

Fighting the hornets for the treasure of a windfall of ripe peaches.

Spanish moss wrapping itself around  the oaks, and the song of katydids bidding us goodnight.

Vicki Wilson Hunt’s photography captures all the beautiful decay, history, and mystery that is the South.

Mrs Ellison by Vicki Hunt

Mrs Ellison by Vicki Hunt


Mr. Green by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Mr. Green by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

After graduating from the University of Alabama, getting married and raising kids, I enrolled in the Black and White Photography program at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL campus.  After moving to Atlanta in 1999, I taught hand coloring photos with oils and alternative photography procedures at a visual art center.  Atlanta Celebrates Photography was my biggest influence, as I stepped into the world of fine art photography and began to enter juried competitions and have group and solo shows.

How did you get started photography?

I was sorority photographer in my junior year of college.  For the next 15 years, I was content to photograph family.  When my kids went to college I returned wholeheartedly to my passion.

Did your family and upbringing affect your decision to become an artist?

My father was an accomplished photographer.  I have all of his cameras and sometimes shoot with his Rolleiflex and Brownie.  Dad was a Birmingham detective in the 1960’s and documented some of the civil rights movement.  His photos were in the, “Road to Freedom”, at the High Museum.   These photos made me so curious about my home state that I became more serious about my work.

 My Mother had a hair stylist salon called “Alice’s Artists”, where she showcased local artists on every wall.  I began buying art in 1976.  Photographic prints became a part of my collection in 1993, when I was able to swap, buy, or win a piece in a silent auction.

Which photographers and other artist work do admire?

I am most inspired by the amazing work of Peter Sekaer, Dorothea Lange, and Walker Evans.  I am in love with Jack Spencer’s work, which is a combination of important scenes from the south with a fine art look.   I constantly gaze on his work and consider it the best ever.  I keep his book by my bed.

And what about their work inspires you?

Sekaer, Lange, and Evans recorded America.  I have stood where Walker Evans stood in Natchez and photographed a Gothic building. I have been inside poverty-stricken homes and thought about how Sekaier would deal with this.  He had such a way with people who made them comfortable as they exposed their living conditions to him and his camera.  Likewise, Spencer’s important artistic but documentary style makes me want to sit at his feet and learn.  Maybe one day I can take his workshop.


Nu Image by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Nu Image by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Smut Eye by Vicki Hunt

Smut Eye by Vicki Hunt

When did you start to develop a personal style?

I believe my work has evolved.  I shoot a variety because not only is the “rest of my life” work more documentary, about the south, its land, people, and quirks, but I work with my galleries on installations, whether it is a hotel, business or permanent collection.  That means I constantly photograph architecture and various scenes that I believe will be appealing to my art consultants.  Although I still use some film, digital allows me to shoot hundreds of pictures for an assignment.


Windsor Ruins by Vicki Hunt

Windsor Ruins by Vicki Hunt

What challenges do you face as a photographer?

Being a woman is sometimes risky business, especially for some of the places I go to shoot. I have been chased with a pitchfork as I made my approach at a scene in the deep south and on more than several occasions been surrounded by security guards while shooting in the wrong place.  I have been forbidden by my family to go back to certain poverty-stricken areas where improper dealings were going on.  My husband has said many times he will plant a cross where I die, somewhere on the road with my camera.

How do you over come a creative block ?

I get in my car and go shoot.  I lose myself in the adventure and find that more than likely a magic moment is around the corner. I am never disappointed and returning home with even one shot encourages me.  Meeting and talking to people even when I don’t get a picture makes me feel the journey is worthwhile, because I usually make a friend.

Would you tell us about your workspace?

I have just had a major move and have some chaos going on, but I can tell this will be the best workspace ever in this house.  I work from 5 computers,  5 externals and hundreds of dvds.  Two printers and a scanner along with the computers fill two work tables.  This workspace will finally allow me to get organized so that slides, film, cameras and digital files are easily stored and accessible. Organization is very important for me because it is not unusual to get requests from consultants, who want to show some of my work for a project and need a file immediately.  I also do encaustics for an Atlanta gallery.  The ambient light in this studio is perfect.

How important is it to your art form to have “creative community”?

I have always, since 1992, been in a photo club.  The Atlanta Photography Group has been the most important one to me.  The jurors are always extremely important and sought after.  This Group has been a platform for me to show my front porch series in select portfolio shows on two occasions.  I feel like I am “solo” now having moved to a new city and not being in a club here.  Also, of great importance to me is education and keeping up with the latest technology.  I took an encaustic class a number of years ago and continue to sell my small work panels.  I take at least one class every year in art procedures or Photoshop techniques.

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

I frame everything in my mind.  I  sometimes feel sorry for people who just pass things by and never notice.  I try not to miss a thing and always turn around in the car to take a 2nd look at something that caught my attention.  If the light isn’t right I go back later.  I notice things like the sky, the funny sign, the person on the porch, or the unique shadow to mention a few. I have often been asked, “What in the world are you shooting?”. As I photograph people on their porch, I get to know them, send them a picture, or help them with an obstacle.  I have a nice pen pal group all over the southern region and many of them call me on the phone.  This is a special way to feel a part of the larger community and it all starts with my camera.


Summertime by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Summertime by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Is there another type of photography or subject matter you would like to tackle?  

I always try to go back to film.  I keep Dad’s Brownie with me and sometimes shoot with a Diana and Holga for fun.  I am working on a series about the Redneck Riviera with film and that should take years to finish.  I would love to spend a month with Dad’s Rolleiflex and numerous rolls of black and white film just practicing on manual focus and light meter.  I also love street photography and  keep Vivian Maier’s book by my bed.  My greatest desire is to publish a Southern book.  I have started a timeline.

Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects ?

My Southern website is www.vickiwilsonhunt.com.  Thanks to John Bennette who encouraged me to separate my stock work from my southern work. I have enjoyed having a more polished approach to showcase a complete body of my southern work. I have just installed an architectural piece in my Alabama Senator’s office at the Alabama State House, as well as, a piece selected for inclusion in a northern hotel and over 60 pieces at Wellstar in Acworth, Georgia.  Soho Myriad, Frameworks Gallery, and Watson Gallery in Atlanta continue to show my work.  Art consultant Jennifer Hunt of Birmingham, Alabama and M. Schon Gallery, who had a solo show for me in 2012 in Natchez, Mississippi. They also promote my photography.  I feel this is the year to work on a strong portfolio.  I truly hope to be a part of Photonola this year and have presented my work for consideration in the show.  Mostly I will focus on the portfolio review and the workshops.

Any stories about your work you would like to share?

I have so many stories.  Although the art of writing is difficult for me, I tell my stories in my blog in simple language with no frills, just as they happened.  Many of my stories are heartbreaking.  Some people lose their homes due to foreclosure and others have died.  One precious friend was perhaps just buried in Potter’s Field.  I have been invited to church in Gee’s Bend, to go fishing in the Alabama river, to cook out in the trailer park, and to photograph the annual Tuskegee checkers tournament.  I have been in a one room shack with 9 of us in the room and I am a loyal fan of the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo which first caught my attention in the late 1970’s.  I have a very small blankets ministry and have added books, toys, socks, and shoes to my list.  Sometimes my girlfriends have asked if they can ride with me on an adventure on the back roads.  I encourage them to look around the corner because there is always someone nearby who can use a little help.  The sky is my limit because the needs are vast, people are lonely, and southerners are friendly.  I have been visiting a Ms. Edna in the local indigent nursing home.  When I asked a nurse what I could do to help, she replied that I could come polish the little lady’s fingernails.  Simple things go a long way.

Read Vicki Wilson Hunt

Read Vicki Wilson Hunt

Before I Die by Vicki Wilson Hunt

Before I Die by Vicki Wilson Hunt

  Thank you Vicki for sharing your time and your art. To learn more about the work of Vicki Wilson Hunt please visit her site at. Rural South.

Thank you to the photographers that share their stories and their work with us.

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Art You Don’t Want to Miss

On the Streets with Martin Elkort

Edythe in Window © Martin Elkort

Edythe in Window © Martin Elkort

 

Martin Elkort is one of the photographers that we are honored to have in Depth of Field. 

This week Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of photographer Martin Elkort.  

How did you get started photography?

When I was around nine or ten my family was on a trip to visit Baltimore.  We got caught in a huge flood and I managed to jump out of the car and take some photographs of cars submerged in the water.  I encouraged my father to drive over to the local newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, to show them the photographs.  They ended up purchasing some of the photographs and publishing them in the paper the next day.  To me, as a kid, that was pretty exciting, and ignited my interest in a possible career as a photographer.

Which photographers and other artists work do admire?

I like almost all professional photographers.  The ones that inspire me are the ones that specialize in pictures of people.  I admire landscape, but I am more attracted to good photographers of people who can capture people’s emotions and actions.

I can’t pick out one photographer because there are so many whose work I admire.  I find nature and landscape inspiring but ultimately boring, whereas people are endlessly provoking emotion and reaction and are colorful and interesting.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you overtime?

Dorothea Lange’s photo of the migrant woman who has her hand near her mouth and two small children.  It was taken during the depression.  I like that photo because it shows her emotion, her angst and you immediately get a sense of who she is.  Someone incidentally took a photo of the same woman forty years after the depression was over and compared them.  During  Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency the WPA and the FSA supported photographers who took those photographs.  It’s an image that will endure and last through time.

Migrant Mother © Dorothea Lange

Fleeing the Dust Storm © Arthur Rothstein

Fleeing the Dust Storm © Arthur Rothstein

 

Another is Arthur Rothstein’s photo of a man and young boy walking past a sod hut in a windstorm during the depression.  It gives you an immediate sense of the dramatic scene.

A photograph that can involve you emotionally can be a successful and powerful photo, depending upon what it is.  It involves you in a positive way emotionally.  Some can involve you in an unpleasant way.  I think one of the most important things a photographer needs is a sense of who he or she is and what they want in life, which can be abstract but it animates the way you see something. People can see the same thing and have different reactions to it.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Delmore Social © Martin Elkort

Delmore Social © Martin Elkort

Ice Cold © Martin Elkort

Ice Cold © Martin Elkort

If you could go out and shoot with another photographer living or passed who would it be?
What about his or her work would make them a great person to shoot with?

Weegee.  Because he knew how to be at the right spot at the right time, and to wait for the right second to snap the shutter.  He once walked around Manhattan, on an empty street.  He took a photo.  Three seconds later, a water main blew up and he snapped a photograph and got on the front pages of the paper.  He just had an urge to take that photograph.  Another photo I like of his is a building engulfed in flames and engines spraying water.  On the side, the building has a billboard that says, ‘simply add water.”

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

I see the world the way most people see the world but occasionally I notice an armament of forms or a certain type of person and I think, “this would make a good photograph.” that is why I use to walk around all day with my camera around my neck, so I didn’t miss an opportunity.

I see the world as an acute observer and you begin to analyze what you see, almost every where you go.  A scene or a person that looks interesting.  If you have a camera, that propels you to take a photo, which is the heart of any good photographer.

What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?

I hope they take the excitement and emotion I felt when I took the picture.  If I can transmit that to the viewer, then I am successful as a photographer.

I have a feeling the subconscious mind works faster than the conscious mind.  Sometimes you see a photograph before it happens and your mind tries to bring it to consciousness in your brain.  That’s the excitement of doing the photography that I enjoy.  Life is full of surprises and if you can capture one of those or a hint of it, you may have a good picture.

Would you like to share a story about one of your images?

“Parable of Life” is one I’m fond of, it is a picture showing a baby in a baby carriage and next to the carriage in the foreground, an old shoeshine man in the mid ground, and in distance a woman is walking away.  On the side, is a block of ice waiting for the storekeeper to open the store and take the ice in.  The ice is melting which shows the metaphor of time passing.  That isn’t something that I thought of when taking the photograph but after, I thought it was a parable of life, which is how it got the title.

Let me explain what I mean when I say that sometimes the subconscious sees things before you do.  As a photographer, you have to trust your instincts, or subconscious mind.  The more you can let your instincts guide your camera over time, the better your photos will become. That’s why certain photographers tend to specialize in certain kinds of photos, because their subconscious minds tend to be activated by that type of photograph that they work with.  You can do that with a camera.  The whole thing is relaxing and not trying to ‘take pictures’ and just see what life presents to you but take the picture at the time that your instincts tell you the time is right.  Or take several photos if you’re not sure.

Parable of Life 1947 © Martin Elkort

Parable of Life 1947 © Martin Elkort

Anything you would like to share with photographers that are just starting out?

It depends on what kind of photographer they are.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.  Just get in there and take the picture.  Now a days with digital cameras, you can save a lot of money compared to using film.  If you don’t like an image you just erase it and use the space over, which you can’t do with film cameras.  Just wade in there.

Also, if they are taking photos of people, develop a “line of patter” that you can use, like a magician doing a trick.  Try to get people to approve of what you do and like you on an instant basis and to acquiesce in taking their photo.  You can do that with a nod and smile, or a few words to convey that you’re not here to harm them and you want to take a picture of them because they have an interesting face.  You don’t have to say that to them, but learn to convey that.  Or else, just use the stealth method which is taking the photo without the subject knowing your taking it.  After you take the photo, then ask them if you can take one.  Then they are in agreement but you’ve already captured the photo that you wanted initially.

Italian Bakery © Martin Elkort

Italian Bakery © Martin Elkort

Thank you Martin for your time and for sharing your work and your words, and a special thank you to Stefani Elkort Twyford.

To see more of Martin Elkort’s work please visit his site at, Martin Elkort.

To learn more about Dorothea Lange , Arthur Rothstein, and Weegee, please click on their individual names.

 

 

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