Hollywood Hardware © Charles Mintz

Today Rfotofolio features the work and words of Charles Mintz.

Please tell a little us about yourself?

Trained as an electrical engineer, photography is my third career. I live in Cleveland OH with my wife. Our son and daughter are not far from us.

How did you get started in photography?

My dad was a 1950’s vintage camera bug, and I caught it. In 1979, somewhat on a whim, I attended a week long workshop at what was Maine Photographic Workshop with the Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson. Freeman was a great teacher. It was a life changing experience. I gave up all my other hobbies to make time for regularly making photographs and resolved to one day do it full time.

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

Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?

Kind of a long list. Just some…Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Frank, Edward Hopper, El Greco, John Coltrane, Timothy O’Sullivan, Nelson Algren,Charles Sheeler.

Rodeo Hardware © Charles Mintz
Wilke Hardware © Charles Mintz

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

Other than that time in Maine, photographing the eclipse on 8/21/2017.

The Hardware Store grew out of my previous projects, most notably Lustron Stories.  When I look at these projects, they reveal to me truths about American culture that, for a variety of reasons, were previously hidden. Hardware stores are survivors of relentless change in retail. They are more about fixing and making things than consuming.  They are about self-reliance and ingenuity. They are part of neighborhoods and communities.

In these images, you can see common elements, snacks, keys, paint and yet they all have a sense of place. We stereotype many of these characteristics as male. But it is the stereotype that is wrong, not the values. Most of these images were done on 8×10 film. There is a visual richness that, while not always obvious, is certainly there.

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

Trevis Moore, at that time a complete stranger, showed up to participate in Precious Objects, with his inmate card in prison and his library card and then wrote a poem about identity.  He was going to be part of the project if the film turned out blank. It was not about the picture; it was about the story. And not my story, his. There are those that criticize this kind of work as mere illustration. I am fine with that.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

When the perfect answer pops out. When I did the film about the sculptor John Clague, I had arranged to use a friend’s music for the opening and closing. Then one day I realized that  John’s piece, Auriculum,  made its own music. That became the opening and closing.

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

My tripod. It helps me stop and think.

Cedar Center Hardware © Charles Mintz
Market Street Hardware © Charles Mintz

What is on the horizon?

I never know if a project is a project until I am many months, sometimes years into it. Right now I am photographing Carnegie Libraries, working with a local non-profit, Rainey Institute, photographing kids, doing some encaustic work with found things and old, why have I saved that, stuff, and hoping to do something with immigrants and the idea of home. It is time to get The Hardware Store digitized, on a website and assembled as an exhibition.

Thank you Charles.

To learn more about the work of Charles Mintz please visit his site by clicking on his name.


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