Once upon a time a rich man who had purchased a vault full of classic movies decided those shot in black and white should be colorized, and he actually started to do so. The common folk, he argued, wanted their movies in color. Taking classic films and colorizing them would open said movies to a whole new audience. Actual lovers of classic movies, of course, disagreed. What few he colorized nobody showed, except the rich man himself over his own cable TV network, and when he sold that network the new owners also didn’t show them. But before that sale, when he did show them over his cable TV network, whole new audiences did not in fact flock to them. The were still, to someone unappreciative of classic film, old. Old, it seemed, was too abstract – too removed from expected reality.
In recent years I occasionally cross paths with someone who loves photography but hates photography they deem altered by computer. That most modern cameras are in fact computers themselves which render images in a format they think represents what the human eye sees is an irony lost to them. Of course, most of my work goes far beyond simple adjustments to exposure and sharpness – I deliberately look deep into the pixels of a photographic capture to find light, colors and wavelengths the camera keeps to itself. I go out of my way to find the abstract, sometimes extreme visions buried there (two new works scheduled for next week will offer extreme examples of that). But black and white photography, which I affectionately refer to as ‘noir’, is a form of abstract in and of itself, and requires little on my part other than finding and capturing the photograph.
I started shooting with my dad’s 1960 model Agfa fixed lens rangefinder camera that he purchased at Montgomery Ward’s department store. I still have it – my brother had it but graciously passed it back to me a few years ago. I still pull it out, put in a roll of black and white 35mm film, and go to town. I have to measure the light, set the f-stop and the shutter speed, pull the trigger and wait for it to be developed to see what I have. There is no automatic. What comes out, if I shot it right, is art in its own right. I just try to stay the hell out of the way.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.