© Loren Nelson

Rfotofolio’s annual call brings to our attention the inspiring work that is being done.
Today we are pleased to share the work of Loren Nelson, one of the selections in the2017 Rfotofolio Call for Entry. 

Would you please tell us a little about yourself ?

I am originally from Colorado Springs, CO, but have lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1962, moving with my family to Tacoma the year the World’s Fair opened in Seattle. I have lived in the Portland area since 1967, and love the quality of the light here, and the fact that I can be at the beach, in the mountains or exploring the high desert in a couple of hour’s drive from my house.

How did you get started in photography?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in photography. I took over vacation photo duty at a young age, using my Dad’s 35mm Exa camera, graduating over the years to a series of Nikons. I started shooting 4X5 film in 1970 with a Crown Graphic I bought from a friend. Then in 1974, I saw an ad for a Deardorff 4X5 Special, and have been making images with it ever since.

Starting in about 1990, I did a lot of architectural photography for architects and interior designers, which I really loved; because buildings don’t complain about how much time I take for a shot! I was using both 35mm and 4X5 transparency film, and gelling a lot of fluorescent lights. I eventually acquired a Nikon D700, which I used only for commercial assignments. A large part of my commercial work has been photographing artwork for artists’ portfolios, which I enjoy immensely.

All of my personal fine-art photography has been done with the Deardorff, developing and printing my images in a traditional wet darkroom. This allows me to keep my commercial work completely separate from my personal photography.

Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?

I consider the photographs and writings of Minor White, Wynn Bullock, and John Wimberley to be my strongest influences.

Would you share with us one image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time?

One image that has stayed with me since I first saw it is Wynn Bullock’s, “Sea Palms”. The intermittent exposure and lack of scale gives the image an otherworldly quality that really appeals to me.

Sea Palms, 1968 Wynn Bullock © 2017 Bullock Family Photography LLC

 What has been your most memorable experience as far as your photographic work is concerned?

I have had too many memorable experiences to recall in regards to my photographic work. I have had the honor of being absolutely transported in a metaphysical sense, in the making of many of my images. I have also been blessed with many exhibition and publishing opportunities over the years. I would count being selected for the Rfotofolio 2017 Portfolio Call and invitation to show in the 2018 Depth of Field show as a highlight and a great distinction.

© Loren Nelson
© Loren Nelson

Please tell us about the portfolio of work you submitted to our call.

The portfolio of images I submitted comes from a body of work I began in 1996, entitled “Under Wraps: Buildings in Transition”. The series is a commentary on change, a subject of much of my photography. I noticed a motel under construction near my home, which was swathed in plastic, glowing brightly against black storm clouds. I squeezed my camera and myself through a gap in the chain-link fence surrounding the site, and exposed a few sheets of film. I thought I had gotten that out of my system, but apparently I hadn’t. A couple weeks later, returning home from a commercial assignment, I came across another wrapped building and photographed it, as well. Now I had a small series, and was inspired to continue. The late 90s saw a flurry of new construction and opportunities to add to this series. Engaged in an unspoken collaboration with friends, family and colleagues, I was (and continue to be) alerted to sightings of draped structures that might otherwise have escaped my notice. I continue to add images to the series, and am close to having enough for a book.

What Image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?

I have learned many lessons while photographing: patience, humility, and calmness in seeing beneath the surface of my subjects, to name a few. But it is through the images I didn’t make that I have learned the most: the subject matter, the light, and the weather conditions will never align themselves like that again; the images offered to you by Spirit are so much more satisfying than those searched for; and, some images are not meant to be recorded, and will be more beautiful in your memory than they ever would in a photograph.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

A good day for me, creatively speaking, is when I have been offered an image, which I was open to accept, and have opportunity to extend my gratitude.

Do you have any favorite pieces of equipment that you find essential in the making of your work?

The limited equipment with which I make my images consists of my 4X5 camera, four lenses, and a light meter. I consider them an extension of my seeing, and are everything I need to photograph.

What is on the horizon?

I am adjusting to losing both my father and my wife in 2016, and looking forward to again pursuing the making of new work. Or rather more accurately, of new work pursuing me. I am curious to see how these life changes will influence and inform my photography as I move on. As well as continuing to add to several ongoing bodies of work, I have a couple of new series in mind, and will be happy to share progress on them down the road.

Thank you Loren. To learn more about the work of Loren Nelson please visit his site at, Loren Nelson. 

To learn more about the work of Wynn Bullock please visit Wynn Bullock Photography. 

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