My intent is to take an ordinary view of specific but possibly anonymous site and
expose a hidden composition within it.
Fundamentally, this is a matter of framing, which for me is the principle contribution
of the photograph. Composition is not possible with eyesight alone but requires
a frame. I hope to make the composition formally obvious, possibly to the point
If the site is sufficiently banal and the composition sufficiently elegant, then
the photograph may be very ironic.
To unveil the composition I often use a very long lens in order to bring shapes up
against each other more tightly --an effect I call automatic montage. I find that
very early morning light also emphasizes composition by making the lines more definite
and by providing more angular shadows.
To place the site in its situation I attempt to make explicit the color of the ambient
light, the angle of viewing, and the quality of diffusion of the light. When viewing
a scene in person, these elements tend to be ‘computed out’ after looking at any
scene for more than a few moments. The job of the eye-brain is to deliver the real
color and real shape of any object and therefore to compensate quickly for the yellowness
of the morning light and for quirks of perspective --for instance. In my photographs
I try to arrest the earlier, what I consider primary, moments of seeing before these
adjustments are made. With a photograph there is an opportunity to capture the situation
as first encountered and then to hold it there more or less indefinitely —less practical
but potentially very entertaining.
The particular temperature of light at transition, the beginning or end of the day,
is especially fleeting. It evokes not only a specific time but also the moment of
reflection in solitude that often accompanies the awareness of this time. Photographs
can hold and then multiply these moments.
About the places
Locations of most of the pictures in the gallery are self-explanatory. A couple
exceptions. . .
Hartford City is Hartford City, Indiana, where I grew up.
Karakoy is a village in Turkey, which was essentially abandoned as a result of the
1923 population exchange, a scheme whereby Turks in Greece and Greeks in Turkey were
to be exchanged back to their ‘correct’ homeland. (This became known in Greece as
the Asia Minor Catastrophe.) A wonderful and terrifying account of this event is
Louis de Bernieres’ novel, Birds without Wings.