The way I see it, it’s all about color; so elusive and delicious. My work is a product of pure visual reflex. When the inspiration forces me to pick up a camera, 95% of the time it’s because I’m instinctively reacting to some color dancing in front of me. That’s how I frame my compositions. Rainbow is the alphabet of my symbolic language . . . a nice chunk of juicy color can tell you everything. Sometimes the light appears so beautiful, angelic, and sparkling that I can almost hear it sing! My first photography teacher taught me that whatever it is we think we’re shooting, in reality it is always light itself.
Fortunately for me, my first critical exposure to photography was with Dr. Mary Sayer-Hammond and her mandatory pinhole photography class at George Mason University. Before being allowed to touch a 35mm camera, we were required to build a pinhole camera out of balsa wood from scratch and work with it exclusively for an entire year (using 4×5 inch silver gelatin paper negatives). To this day, I cannot think of a better way to learn and understand the most basic photographic principles, the phenomenon of light, and how an image materializes.
Although my roots are in traditional black & white photography, I will never forget the day I discovered color. Everything flipped. I was attending graduate school at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York City. I took one color printing class and black & white completely evaporated from my life. Being able to enlarge my own color photographs in the darkroom opened up a whole new universe for me. Suddenly I became ultra-conscious of the fact that I *SEE* color and my reaction to it is an intuitive process beyond my control. Color photos sing a completely different tune for me, they are able to convey a richer set of emotions that are infinitely more subtle.
Through years of formal photographic schooling, I was bombarded with the eternal theoretical questions, “So what? Why should the audience care? What is the purpose of this picture?” My dear friend Anja Conrad, referring to one of her prints in a master critique class, once proclaimed: “I want you to lick it!!” Exactly.