I’m in the third phase of my career as a photographer. In the beginning I focused on commercial photography which I call my “the way the world is supposed to be” phase. I describe it this way because advertising photography is about persuading people that their life will be made better and fulfilled through the consumption of products. The internet has made exposure to advertising a constant experience. After 5 years of creating this kind of content I decided to change directions. I found more fulfillment working with people and trying to understand them and to celebrate the dignity of the enduring human spirit.
For the second phase of my career I focused on portraiture, social documentary and editorial photography. The driving force for this work was Dorthea Lange’s two questions she asked of every photograph, “Is this my world? If not, what does it have to do with my world?” I was also deeply influenced by the work of the French Humanist photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Doiseneau and the more biting surrealism of the American Walker Evans.
Having spent many years traveling and photographing as well as experiencing major life milestones and their ups and downs, I slowly realized that understanding alone didn’t help me achieve a level of personal happiness or satisfaction.
This led me to a pursuit of wisdom which took me down the path of eastern philosophy of Tao and Zen, poetry of Robert Frost and W.C. Merwin, and American transcendentalism through revisiting the works of Emerson and Thoreau.
In this third phase I found myself returning to nature where I had always felt most alive and excited as a child. I also began to slow down and live more simply. It was only through a gratitude practice and a meditation practice that led me to look at the world without words or meaning attached to it but rather to simply see the graphic elements and feel the calmness settle over me that came from being in nature. The artwork of Minor White, Van Gogh, as well as Hokusai wood block prints and Chinese Landscape painters such as Qu Ding and Kuncan.
Learning to see the world for it’s primordial elements allowed me to transcend the struggles of modern life and to become deeply satisfied with the life I have. Through my artwork I try to transmit the elements of nature that will transform a living or workspace into a more calm and satisfying environment to live in.
Whereas I have always clung to the purity of film based photography I recently began to really explore the creative potential of digital photography. Through the use of composite imagery I feel I am able to truly create something new and express the wisdom that comes from blending life experiences with meaning that comes from interpreting those experiences. It is allowing me to revisit my library of images and recombine them into something new. It has also expanded my current photography by allowing me to focus on the elements of a scene and rather than the single postcard landscape image that is so overly common.
I still value pure film photography but I have added composite imagery to my art practice and I think it has helped me grow my understanding of creativity.
I have recently returned to the darkroom and begun making platinum/palladium prints which I feel are some of my best works to date. This process allows me to harmonize my experiences with film and digital photography by combining them together. After editing an image on my computer I make an enlarged digital negative that I contact print onto paper that I have hand coated with a mixture of light sensitive chemicals. Each print takes more than an hour to make which adds to the meditative quality of this process.
Science and Art Research
Over the years I have come across scientific research that supports what artists have known for a very long time. Quantum physics has revealed the interconnected nature of the universe just as the om of a yoga practice has described it..
Functional MRI’s demonstrate that the fractal patterns in nature trigger a restorative experience in the brain. This research has led me to become very aware of how I am perceiving the world and to identify compositions that lead to experiencing this same restorative effect. Early on I began to remove the background completely by hanging black velvet behind the plants I was photographing. More recently I have begun to combine elements together in a way that pays homage to the traditions of Chinese and Japanese art.
The Age of Anxiety
The modern world induces anxiety and stress everyday due to the changing of our brain caused by increased workload in our careers and demand for our constant attention from smartphone notifications. Research is showing prolonged exposure to screen technology stimulates harmful beta waves in our brain that triggers stress and anxiety.
Art designed for restorative contemplation…
The intention behind my artwork is to provide you a gentle pause for breath and self reflection about the beauty that exists around us every day. The fractal patterns found in nature induce soothing and restorative alpha waves in the brain that ease stress.
Artwork In Living and Working Spaces
The visual artwork we incorporate into our work and living environments has a huge impact on our psyche. Artwork provides mental stimulation for us every day and communicates non-verbally to our guest who share time with us in these spaces.
My artwork is based upon years of research into Zen, Taoism, and Art History and Psychology. These images incorporate the Japanese concept of NOTAN to balance the energy of a composition in a way that will help restore your sense of well-being and give pause for self-reflection. Taking just 5 minutes a day for meditative relaxation has tremendous benefit to your overall health. This is a secret that successful happy people have incorporated into their daily lives!
What is NOTAN?
Notan is a japanese term used to describe the balance of light and dark values in a composition. Similar to chiaroscuro, notan is the interplay of energy within a limited range of mostly black and white values along with the irreducible shapes and patterns that form a composition.
The chinese Yin and Yang symbol might be the most recognizable example of the concept of notan. It is easy to see that notan is an idea that evolved from Taoist Chinese landscape painting and was further refined by Japanese Zen artists before reaching the West through the import of Asian into Paris, most notably by Vincent Van Gogh.
In looking at the qualities of my own work I realized that I have always been drawn to the harmony found in black and white imagery. I have to dedicated more than 30 years to my practice of photography and the pursuit of peace, harmony, and wisdom. I hope you find some enjoyment of my artwork and make time for yourself to experience nature and art on a deep and personal level.