Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More than 250,000 images

Somehow these negatives have survived four decades of journeys, from Maine to Ohio to Santa Fe to Bethesda to Massachusetts and there again and back again. When all other things were scattered, the battered boxes of film have stayed with me.
Starting as a teenage father in 1964, I have pursued the art of photography from my earliest experiments to a workshop with the legendary Minor White and graduate study at Ohio University. After school  I found work in journalism with Maine Times as it was emerging in 1973 as one of the world's first "eco papers."
My professional career centered on color viewbook. calendar and magazine photography for Maine's top colleges: Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, U of Maine, Husson, etc. plus many private schools. These images, and many more commercial assignments will not appear in this blog. In this first entry I'm giving you a brief introduction.
I'm 65 and live on an island off the coast of Maine. There is a bridge with a numbered road, but you can still feel the difference of being "on island." My wife is a video producer who has enabled us to create a hit TV show on public television. Our web site is about to be refurbished, but here is the link:
In the first decade of the century I created a body of work which may be seen here:
These are point of reference. Although I have used the name of my current gallery site, this blog is an exploration of personal history and the emergence of vision. It is a journey of discovery, rooted in the past century, but taking place in the present.
I'm also a musician in the select group who have actually had a hit record. That happened early, in 1962, when I was 17, a couple of years older than the above image, which dates from 1959. There I am in Bill Baker's (he took the picture) bedroom, holding the old Stella I picked up one night while babysitting. That led to "Hangin' Five." a minor number in the surf canon, still being played everywhere the surf sound is revived along with "Wipe Out."But this blog is not about music.

Here is one of the very first images I took with the old Rollieflex I got at employee discount. My boss, Bob Duncan of Duncan's Camera Shop in North Conway, NH, advised me to get the Rollie. I now suspect he was glad to move the old unit, but it was a professional camera and used 120 film, not the 620 of the old Brownie Hawkeye. I got the camera to record our child, Bradford, born on August six days before my 20th birthday.

Before I had any idea of what I was doing, my eye found the light. Years later Minor White would tell me there was "something very moving in [my] direct perception of light."

In one of the first images I ever made, one can see the instinct for the chiaroscuro.

Here's the lad in his crib. already getting ready to talk back. We were living in the family ski house after our shotgun wedding in January. From the infrequency of our visits in the fall of '63, there is no doubt but that Brad was conceived in circumstances of great portent: on the weekend of the Kennedy assassination in the library of the TD house at Bowdoin. As his life began, so did the sixties for us.

The instinctive sense of light and composition before I ever took an art course is evident in this shot of Lorel, still 19 until her November birthday. The film was developed in a lab Duncan had in the back of the camera shop. In addition to retailing camera gear, film and records, Bon Duncan shot weddings, groups and studio portraits. If this was not enough, he also played piano and crooned for his own band, in which I played, following the chords in the fake book. In a matter of a few months, I had in my hands the basic tools of photography.

Once Lorel got her dance figure back, we tried a bit of corny, amateur studio theatrics. It was all just for fun, no idea yet of being an artist.

Then something else starts to appear. Even in her modest tights and standard dance poses, Lorel starts to emerge as the model who will represent human form in  my work through the sixties. There are only a few images from those early months in New Hampshire before our return to Bowdoin in 1965. After our sojourn in a sleepy ski town, the next chapter back in college would step up the pace.

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