I could think of a lot of titles for this bio-blurb. How many meaningless jobs can one person have?
How did I ever get from there to here?
The truth is - like most people - I don't know that much about myself. Some of the facts are these:
I have worked as a screenplay writer, taxi-cab driver, bus-boy, can-carrier in a movie lab, custom color lab printer, programmer, and lighting director on feature films (the entire list of jobs is too depressing to list).
After working as a programmer in the corporate world for ten years - I was propelled one day - or compelled - to try and make a living at photography.
Part of what propelled me back into photography (after my programming stint) was the sudden realization that a properly mounted and framed photograph was a finished product; and that there was a good chance that I would get more satisfaction from this bit of art then weeks or years of managing programmers.
Art existed whether anyone liked it or not. Whether anyone bought it. Whether anyone saw it. No matter. It existed. It was complete. Photographs don't need a committee of producers or vice-presidents to give them the okay. In the beginning, I was very happy to simply show my work to friends, and not try to make a business of it.
Meanwhile I kept getting promoted in the programming world - but wasn't getting any satisfaction from it (to put it mildly). So I began my little experiment with selling photography.
Where did it all start?
I had my first darkroom
when I was fifteen. I think that I was introduced to photography
at a community center in the Bronx, but I'm not sure. I am now middle-aged.
About 20 years ago I began to work seriously at photography.
I have only done black and white photography, trying to capture those
little ordinary moments of city life that are extraordinary without
either denigrating or glorifying people. I still shoot carefully composed
shots on a tripod once in a while.
There are some large format and medium format photographs
on the site, taken at a time when I was still developing my craft, studying
the Zone System technique, and learning how to print. I went through a year with digital cameras but returned to film.
Where did you study black and white photography?
I didn't attend any photography school or work under the tutorship
of any established photographers. What I know has been learned
through trial and error. I did spend two years at NYU Graduate
School of Film and Television where I learned a great deal about lighting techniques from a fine Hungarian cameraman, Other than that, I am self taught.
I don't believe
that you need to go to school to learn photography. It is more important
to have something interesting to say about life, or if not interesting
funny. When people ask me about where to study photography, I tell them
to study literature or music instead.
Who or what inspires you?
I believe in the 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration motto. Or as one
of the Westons said, 'most of photography is drudgery'. There are, brief
flashes of inspiration. When I began doing a lot of street photography,
I was inspired by 'A Vanished World' by Roman Vishniac, and practically
anything by Andre Kertesz. I really don't know much about the contemporary
photographic world. As I walk around the city, inspiration is not a
problem, it is everywhere. The only problem I have is turning it off.
What Equipment and film do you use?
Photographers often want to know this. I have taken great pictures
with a $90 Canonet (had one of the sharpest lenses I ever owned) and
lousy pictures with more expensive equipment. After many years I've
come to the conclusion that, yes the equipment is important, but only
in regard with what you want to capture.
The images on this site have been taken with everything from a 4 x 5 camera, to a point and shoot. I used the Contax G2 for a long time. Then the Leica M6, the Elan 7.
Current camera: Canon 40D with 30mm Sigma f1.4 lens and a few other prime lenses.
I use Adobe Lightroom for most of the processing.
I currently print with the Epson 4800 and Epson 7800 on Crane/Museo silver rag.
Why Sell on the Web?
After doing a couple of gallery shows where prints sold in the $700 - $1500 range, I realized that I wanted to reach a wider audience. I also wanted to be able to offer a larger selection. A typical gallery show might show 15 pieces, if that. On the web I can offer hundreds of prints at what I consider reasonable prices. Plus, I don't like standing around eating cheese and sipping wine and chatting endlessly about the prints on the gallery wall.
Thanks - And I would like to thank all the visitors to this
site who have written to me to say how these straight-forward black
and white photos have moved them.
The response has been overwhelming, and appreciated.
If you want to read more about techniques and photography musings, here are photo essays I wrote.
[And yes, this is my sole means of support and I have been selling prints on the web since the last century - — 1999 to be exact].