A curated online gallery space for fine art photography, we have no bins…
“I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” – Saul Bass
To learn more about the work of Peter Liepke please visit his site, at Peter Liepke Photographs.
To read our interview with Peter please visit, “The Craft of Peter Liepke”.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work.
Rfotofolio is pleased to feature the work and words of Peter Liepke.
Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a fine art photographer. Currently I’m working on a photographic series, “Above & Beyond” that is based on many experiences in my life. I grew up in St. Louis Park Minnesota. It’s a suburb in close proximity to Minneapolis. I’ve always loved woodworking, and most people don’t know it, but for a brief time I once had a pipe dream of becoming a professional 5 string bluegrass banjo player. I’d play and practice constantly 24/7, and even made a beautiful inlaid 5 string banjo from scratch in my high school wood shop class. But in a sad twist of irony about two weeks after I finished making it, I lost most of my right thumb (I’m right handed) in sort of nasty gruesome industrial accident at a temporary summer job where I worked. After that I never picked up the banjo again or really wanted to, so I got into photography.
After high school I moved to Los Angeles to attend the Art Center College, and then assisted various photographers in LA eventually opening my own commercial advertising photography studio with clients like Honda, Sunkist, Universal Studios and more. About five years later a level 6.5 earthquake ruined my commercial studio, and having never really felt comfortable living in Los Angeles anyway, I decided to move to New York City.
I completely threw out my entire portfolio of advertising work I had done for years in LA, and with a fresh start began shooting editorial portraiture, including the cover of Walter Cronkite’s biography, “A Reporters Life” and many other book covers which I really enjoyed. New York City (NYC) is also where I met my wife.
We enjoyed living in NYC for many years while I worked as a freelance editorial photographer for many great clients, however, about fifteen years ago we moved upstate and now enjoy raising our two teen age sons in a beautiful rural area of the Hudson Valley about an hour north of NYC.
How did you get started in photography?
In the latter part of high school I took a photography course as an elective taught by a truly gifted teacher who had such an amazing way of inspiring his students. Prior to the photography course I’d never picked up a camera before only my banjo. By the end of the course, I was completely hooked so I saved up enough money and bought my first camera, a 35mm Minolta SRT101 for $220.00. As a teenaged kid it seemed like a million dollars at the time. Most of my high school friends were saving to buy cars, but I was now totally hooked into photography.
Soon after I worked and saved more money to purchase the new Mamiya RB 67. It was one of the first ones released at the time in Minneapolis and I was becoming more obsessed, most of the time out making pictures when I should have been doing my school homework.
My parents were very supportive with my new passion, and my dad built me my first dark room. It didn’t have plumbing but it was still great.
Was art encouraged in your family?
Yes, and I owe my wife, my parents, and two older brothers such a deep debt of gratitude for their support and encouragement throughout the years that I’ll never be able to repay, but will be forever grateful to them. My parents were both retail display artists. So even as kids even if we realized it at the time or not we were exposed at an early age to a lot of art.
In their mid fifties both my parents were abruptly laid off from their jobs and were out of work. With very little savings, no college, or business financial training they decided to mortgage our house (a very courageous move) and start up their own design business out of our garage, creating and designing beautiful huge handmade custom Christmas decorations, and animation for large enclosed shopping malls around the country and Canada. Their products were stunning, and there is really nothing out there anymore like it. Honestly, I really don’t mean to boast, but now that I’m at the age they were at the time, I’m simply so proud and inspired by them and what they accomplished in a very short period of time before they died. What started as a small mom and pop business out of our garage at home morphed into a 20,000 square foot studio, multi million dollar enterprise, that employed over thirty people when they finally sold off the business.
The most important life lesson my parents taught me was that no matter how difficult the odds may be, with a deep passion and hard work it’s never too late to start over and create a new beginning in your life, to always deeply trust your own artistic instinct, and as difficult as it may be at times . . . never ever stop believing in yourself.
Which photographers and other artist work do you admire?
I admire, and have a deep respect for the early masters; Edward Steichen, Alfred Steiglitz, Paul Strand, Alvin Coburn, Adolph Fassbender, Karl Struss, Lewis Hine. There are just so many more the list might not ever end. The work at the time of the early masters was not only stunningly beautiful, and groundbreaking, but I also admire greatly the adversity they overcame using the medium. Without any of the numerous technological advantages that we enjoy today they were able to capture, illustrate, and express works of art that now even one hundred years later remain unrivaled to this day. There was no Photoshop or megapixels; they did it by sheer hard work, artistry, and craftsmanship.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
Why Gum Bichromate?
First off I would say because the Gum Bichromate process can be anything that as an artist you want it to be. There are very few if any creative limitations. Each print is one of a kind and in a sense quite unique. Since part of its component uses watercolor pigment if you wish it can be quite painterly, or literal if that’s your direction. It can be full color, straight up black & white, duotone, or tritone. You can print it on beautiful Italian watercolor paper, wood, or if archival properties are not of any concern you can even print it on cement.
I feel that my art does not end with just taking the photograph; it only ends when the final print is completed, and framed.
The Gum Bichromate process tests your patience, is extremely tactile, it can be unforgiving, laborious, time-consuming, and is only made strictly by hand which is why I like it, but many people may not. It doesn’t come with any buttons to push that say “Print”. So that being the case it’s also quite personal. Most of my prints average about four-five individual coats, so with every coat comes a brush stroke from my hand, which is a pretty personal statement. Not to mention the fact that from an archival standpoint the prints will last forever, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Would you share an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?
There are so many! Oh my god that’s like trying to pick a favorite song, and if that were the case I’d pick “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison.
But if I had to narrow it down I’d either pick, “The Flat Iron Building” by Edward Steichen or “Steam Fitter” by Lewis Hine.
If no one saw your work, would you still create it?
Yes, absolutely. That’s what makes us who we are. Look at the life of Viviane Mayer. I’ve always loved this quote as well . . . “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” – Saul Bass
Please tell us about your process and what is the perfect day for you?
It depends upon if I’m shooting new images for my series in NYC, or making prints. If I’m shooting new work, then getting just one good shot that I’m excited about from that days shoot is a perfect day for me. If I’m making prints, then getting a finished Gum print in two or three coats right off the bat in the morning makes the start of a great day. Like a baseball pitcher throwing a good fast ball, and nothing but strikes. Of which finishing that perfect day for either situation would be spending the night at Yankee Stadium with my family.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Well, like it or not, it is a business after all, and I treat it like one. Art and Commerce = marketing, exposure, selling work, having your work acquired in collections adds up to a constant juggling act keeping all the balls in the air while trying not to drop any.
Is there one thing that you wish people would stop doing when it comes to the creative process or in the art world?
I’ve never spent much time thinking about that, but I’d probably say when people put together and write really pretentious artist statements to accompany their work. I wish someone had the ability to banish pretentious artist statements to the gates of hell for all eternity.
How do you overcome a creative block?
Listen to great music, or get out and about around town, and often times both. But don’t stay inside the studio.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?
Well, I would hope for some sort of an emotional connection, but if not, at the very least a sense of pride, uniqueness, and handmade craftsmanship.
Would you like to share a story about one of your images?
Although I have many, actually I’d rather not. Some, but not all of my images are based or inspired by certain people in my life that are my secret. I’d rather the viewer bring their own feelings to an image than hear my stories.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
It only reinforces the fact that each one of us are important individual pieces of a much larger jigsaw puzzle.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects?
You can see my work online at my website Peter Liepke Photographs, or my galleries, or my artist page on Facebook.
I’m quite busy at the moment working seven days a week on preparing a solo show at one of my galleries, Gallery 270 in Englewood New Jersey. My solo exhibition will be showcasing my series “Above & Beyond” that I have been photographing the past several years. The show opens November 7th. It’s based upon my life experiences of starting over, breaking away, chasing a dream, and my first impressions of migrating to New York City many years ago. I’m not finished shooting the series nor will I be for a few more years; however, the show will feature about thirty of my large Gum Bichromate prints, and six Platinum Palladium prints.
Thank you Peter Liepke.
To learn more about Peter Liepke please visit his site at, Peter Liepke Photographs.
To learn more about Gallery 270 please visit their site at, Gallery 270.
To learn more about Lewis Hines please visit, The National Archives.
To learn more about Edward Steichen please visit, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work with us.
October is almost over and we want to thank Chuck Davis for his generosity in donating all of the funds from his R.O.M. to the Rfotofolio Fund.
Also a big thank you to all of the people who support photographers by collecting their art.
Your support helps us continue sharing their work. To learn more please visit the About Us page.
Rfotofolio is pleased to have as our October R.O.M.the beautiful “Bull Kelp#1, Point Lobos” by Chuck Davis.
“Bull Kelp #1, Point Lobos”
11″x14″ paper size (image area, 9″x13″)
Medium: toned silver gelatin print
Mounted on 4-ply white archival board with 4-ply window matt
Print is signed on the front mount, with my photographer’s stamp on the verso.
Story behind the photograph: This image was photographed underwater at the Point Lobos State Underwater Reserve at a location called Bluefish Cove on July 8, 1999 — just about 15 years ago exactly.
Truth be known, I had set out that day with a rebreather (so I could be extra-quiet in the water) and my underwater camera to photograph some of the usually shy and stealthy harbor seals that were frequenting the Cove, but upon descent to the bottom from our dive boat I was greeted by a wonderful surprise: before me were a series of brand new “baby” bull kelp fronds “sprouting” up off the hard reef substrate. Bull kelp is an “annual” marine algae and occurs in giant kelp forests off this part of the Central California coast, usually in the open spaces where it competes for space with giant kelp, in that eternal saga of life and death and rebirth, that is so visible in these giant kelp forest ecosystems. This particular bull kelp was indeed dancing in front of me, buoyed by its spherical float or “pneumatocyst” and its blades were morphing, rising and falling, expanding and contracting, into a series of intriguing forms before my eyes. I was feeling like I was witnessing a siren luring me in for a closer look begging for attention and waving at me. This bull kelp was very new, and free of any encrusting marine debris, and it has its own subtle sheen on the float, even in the flat subdued light of the deep kelp forest. The blades seemed to render the float Medusa-like. I spent the next hours or so not moving from that very spot, just observing, seeing/feeling and exposing frames of film (with just the available ambient light) as this marine algae literally danced in front of my camera, pulsed by the powerful force of the open Pacific wave surge above.
This experience reminds me once again of Minor White’s quote, “It isn’t just what it is . . . but what else it is “
On this photographic dive, this bull kelp was definitely “something else” ,way beyond just a piece of brown algae, in my mind’s eye. A dive I will long remember. – Chuck Davis
About Chuck Davis from the Tidal Flats site.
From the freezing climes of Antarctica and Greenland to the heat and humidity of the Amazon, Chuck Davis has worked as a specialist in marine and underwater photography and cinematography. His motion picture film credits include work on several IMAX films, including, “Ring of Fire” (underwater lava scenes), “Whales”, “The Greatest Places”, “Amazing Journeys”, “Search for the Great Sharks”, and two Academy Award-nominated IMAX films, “Alaska: Spirit of the Wild” and “The Living Sea” (underwater/marine scenes of Monterey Bay). Davis’s cinematography experience has also included numerous expeditions worldwide with the Cousteau filming teams working with the late Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his son Jean-Michel during production of “The Rediscovery of the World” TV series. He has also worked on feature films such as Warner Brothers’ “Sphere” and documentary projects for the Discovery/Learning Channel, BBC, PBS, CBS, ABC, A&E, NBC/Universal and National Geographic Channel. Recent cinematography projects include work as the Director of Photography for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s “Ocean Adventures” PBS TV series, the Smithsonian’s “Who We Are” (a special dome-theater film for the National Museum for the American Indian, in Washington, D.C.), and the avant-garde production, “Crystal Palace”, filmed in Papua New Guinea for Director, Mathias Poledna.
A widely published still photographer, Chuck’s images have appeared nationally and internationally in magazines such as B+W, Orion, Life, National Geographic, Audubon, Nature’s Best, Defenders, National Wildlife, Outside, Scientific American, Terre Sauvage, BBC Wildlife, Italy’s FOCUS/Extra, Ocean Realm and numerous Cousteau publications.
His fine art black and white and color work has been represented in special exhibitions by the Ansel Adams Gallery, the Christopher Bell Collection Gallery, the Oceans Gallery in Los Angeles, in multi-photographer exhibits at the National Geographic Society/Explorer’s Hall in Washington, D.C., Nikon House/New York, The Center for Photographic Art, Brooks Institute and the San Francisco International Airport. Davis’s work is included in numerous private and corporate collections. He is also the author/photographer of “California Reefs”/Chronicle Books.
In our effort to develop the Rfotofolio Fund, and to give another resource to photographers, Rfotofolio is initiating the Rfoto of the Month (R.O.M.) program. Each month we will be featuring a different artist or image.
The photographers that participate in our R.O.M. graciously donate part of the proceeds from the sale of their work to the Rfotofolio Fund.
By purchasing our featured print not only are you supporting the photographer and Rfotofolio, you are able to add a unique piece of art to your collection from a curated list of artists.
We hope you will consider supporting photographers and build your collection by purchasing our print of the month.
The print size and price is determined by the individual photographer.
If you would like to purchase “Bull Kelp# 1, Point Lobos” by Chuck Davis please press the “buy now” button.
You do not need a Paypal account to use Paypal.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you Chuck for sharing your work with us.
To learn more about Chuck Davis please visit his site at, Tidal Flats.
To read our interview with Chuck please visit,“The Other Earth”.
To learn more about Peter Liepke please visit his site, at Peter Liepke Photographs.
To learn more about the Gallery 270 please visit their site at, Gallery 270.
We will be publishing our interview with Peter Liepke on Oct. 30th.
From the Lumière in Atlanta
New Exhibition – View From The Street
Featuring the Work of Harold Feinstein
November 14 – December 23, 2014
First recognized at the age of 19 by Edward Steichen, who purchased his prints for MoMA,
Feinstein has been widely acclaimed throughout his distinguished career.
“He is one of the few photographers with the ability to reveal the familiar in a beautiful new way”
W. Eugene Smith
“Humanistic, intimate, engaged” • A.D. Coleman…photography critic, New York Times
Also included . . . photographs by Vivian Maier – in conjunction with the publication of the book:
Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found (Oct 28,2014 – Harper Collins)
To learn more about Harold Feinstein please visit his site at, Harold Feinstein Photography.
For more information on the Lumiere Gallery please visit their site at, Lumiere Fine Art Photography .
To learn more about Fran Forman please visit her site at, Fran Forman.
To learn more about the Pucker Gallery please visit their site at, Pucker Gallery.
To read our interviews with Fran please visit,”The Art of Fran Forman”.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work with us.
Jim, please tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started in photography?
In 1951 or 1952, when I was eight or nine, my parents bought me a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera. It took twelve 2 1/4 square pictures on a roll of 620 film, was made out of Bakelite, and had a not-very-precise waist-level finder and a shutter release you pressed with your thumb. I loaded it with Super-XX film, and started making a pest of myself. It soon became obvious that drugstore processing was going to be way too expensive. My father purchased a rudimentary darkroom kit: a plastic Kodak developing tank with an apron that took a day to dry, a Kodak Tri-Chem pack (developer, stop, and fixer in tiny foil packets), a 15-watt light bulb that had been dipped in red dye, three plastic 5×7 trays, and a small contact printing frame. I’d load the film into the developing tank in a closet and develop and print in the bathroom, washing the film and prints in the sink. This didn’t exactly endear me to my mother, but I loved it.
A few years later, I was a freshman in high school. During spring break, I got the idea of taking pictures for the school newspaper. I talk my father into loaning me a Weston Master light meter and his folding Zeiss Ikon camera: 16 pictures on a roll of 120 film in a format that today we’d call 6×4.5. I presented myself to the newspaper staff, and they decided to give me a trial assignment. “Do you know how to develop film?”, they asked. “Sure,” I answered, thinking of all the rolls that I’d put through the Kodak tank. I went off to make the picture.
It’s a pretty boring shot: all the seniors who were elected to cum laude that year, lined up in two rows. I had no flash and no tripod. The light meter reading was really low. I opened the lens all the way, braced the camera on a table, guessed the distance (no rangefinder), and hoped for the best. It was 7:30 by the time I was done, and paste-up is supposed to start at 10:30. I headed for the school darkroom and found the chemicals, but the developing tank was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It said “Nikor” on it. The tank itself, the lid, and the cap seem to be easy enough to figure out, but what’s this stainless steel spiral? If I’d had any sense, I would’ve used an unexposed roll of film to teach myself how to load the reel, but I just turned out the lights and struggled for 10 minutes. After the film was fixed, I opened the tank to see how bad off I was. It was pretty bad; the film was stuck to itself in lots of places, and those places aren’t fixed. I finally found an intact frame. While the film was drying (I turned the drier thermostat up so high I’m lucky the film didn’t reticulate), I turned to the enlarger. I’d never seen one before. It turned out to be pretty easy to figure out. The prints were pretty soft; either I’d misjudged the distance or moved the camera. After the prints were washed, I figured out the print drier. I got the prints in on time and my career as a teenaged photojournalist had begun.
What photographers and artists inspire you?
Edward Hopper, Michael Kenna, Lee Friedlander, Frederic Church. Rod James, for This Green, Growing Land and what followed.
Did you have any special mentors?
I took workshops from some great photographers. John Sexton and Huntington Witherill were both especially influential in developing a sense of craft and esthetics. One of the hardest things about learning photography is knowing what a good print looks like; they both helped teach me.
What was the inspiration for your Staccato series?
I had been working on the Nighthawks series for about three years, and I was running out of places to make the images. I needed fairly large cities with enough areas with good photographic possibility that I didn’t have to return over and over to the same places, causing my subjects to notice me and making me bored and restless. I’d run through what I thought were the best U.S. cities, and was thinking about Mexico and Japan. I’d actually booked a trip to Guadalajara, only to back out when a spate of violence erupted. The big European cities are mostly darker at night than the ones in the U.S., and the storefronts typically less open to the street. Tokyo seemed like a good possibility, but the time zone shift is in the wrong direction, and I’d be going out to take pictures at midnight or one AM by body time.
I also was noticing that the blurry drive-by photographs like those in Nighthawks and This Green, Growing Land had gone from highly unusual to common in the larger photographic world, and I didn’t like being part of what might turn into a cliché.
One morning, I was lying in the bathtub ruminating about what to do when an idea popped into my brain. The thing I liked so well about This Green, Growing Land and Nighthawks was the ability to direct the viewer’s attention by judicious panning. I realized that there was another way to do that. Rather than making one semi-blurry picture, I could make a series of sharp pictures and composite them, achieving the same esthetic effect, but with a different look and a whole host of new possibilities. I thought immediately of Nude Descending a Staircase.
Over how long a time period did this evolve?
The idea for Staccato came in a flash, but the ideas behind the idea were developed over many years, starting with Alone in a Crowd, which used motion blur with a fixed camera, going to This Green, Growing Land, which used a moving platform to add depth and more control of sharpness, to Nighthawks, which moved the venue to cities and returned to the emotional themes of Alone in a Crowd. Because I knew the subject matter so well from Nighthawks, Staccato gelled almost immediately.
What is makes a good photographic day for you?
I don’t think in terms of days. I think in terms of whatever project I’m working on. If I can capture images true to what I’m looking for, that’s fine. If I can advance my vision of what the project’s about, that’s good. If I get an idea for some tangent to explore, that’s great within reason; too many tangents means none of them get properly developed.
In your eyes what makes a great piece of art?
I don’t know if I can make sense of such a large question. I can tell you what I’m looking for in my work. I want something pleasing to the eye. I’m looking for ambiguity; I want the image to reveal itself over a long time. I want a connection to my own emotions, and some prospect that the viewer will feel a similar connection.
Could you share some of your work process with us?
Making the exposures for Staccato is, to anyone else by me, excruciatingly boring. Drive around looking for subjects. Find a few. Work out a route that goes by them. Circle around until they’ve moved, noticed me and start waving, or until even I am bored. Then do it again, for hours and hours. I talk to the driver about what I’m doing so that he can position the car right, and to involve him in the process.
How do you go about editing your work?
I bring a trip’s worth of exposures into Lightroom. Thousands of images. I go through them all, marking the ones with no possibilities for deletion, and grouping the rest into stacks that will be composited. Then I export each stack to Photoshop and see if I can make something of it. If I can, I save it. If I can’t, I delete the stack from the disk. I keep the original exposures for each composite I like, and often go back and re-composite the stack to see if I can do better.
Could you tell us about your studio space?
It’s a mess. Computers, monitors, printers everywhere. And cables. Lots and lots of cables, coiled in unruly, spaghetti-like piles. Every so often, I’ll work for a morning to try to beat back the clutter, but the best I can do is fight the clutter to a draw.
Are there any photographic techniques or subjects that you haven’t explored but that you wish to do in the future?
I’ve found that thinking of something unrelated to what I’m working on doesn’t get me very far. I prefer to work on whatever I’m doing, and see where that leads me. It’s a series of small steps, not a big leap. Most of what I’m working on now has to do with portraying time.
Jim thank you for sharing your art and your time.
To see more of Jim’s work visit his site at,Jim Kasson Photography.
To learn more about Peter Liepke please visit his site at, Peter Liepke.
To read our interview with Mitchell please visit, “Mitchell Hartman”.
To learn more about Mitchell Hartman please visit his site, Embrace the Grain.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work.