Caught in a Dilemma?

I don't know if you can relate but let's try it. There may be wisdom here but it may also be inconsequential or even foolhardy. We will see. At any rate, it will be good to run it down, to look at it a little as a phenomena.

I am starting here: senior and career artist photographer with some credentials (full professor at one highly ranked university and 13 years teaching at another, BFA and MFA degrees in photography at one of the top programs nationally, a long exhibition list over the whole career, grants and work in many museums and private permanent collections, currently represented by Boston-based 555 Gallery). In brief: a long established tenure of working in black and white analog series but also firmly established in the digital and color world of contemporary practice for the past 13 years.

Okay, so that's the framework. Let's just add that I taught photo history and contemporary directions in photography as lecture courses over the years. I know my discipline. But I am not solely a theoretician, I am a practitioner as well. Throughout my career I believed that part of my validation as a teacher was that I was out there making work. However, I live and breath in contemporary times and see photography changing so very drastically every day. Let me acquire some pictures to show you what I mean.

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff who describes himself on his site, "I'm a warm hearted old-school gentleman with really cool tools". His site is: here. I do not know Mr. Ratcliff but he describes his site as being one of the most frequented travel websites in the world. I suggest going to his site to get its full effect.

Whereas I come from a tradition of making pictures like these:

From the series Blackwater Dam made over a three year period in the early 90's. The full series is on the the site: here.

These fit into a firmly established tradition of landscape pictures made by a  practicing photographic artist: 8 x 10 view camera, 24 x 20 inch black and white prints made by me in the darkroom, a Zone System tonal scale, selenium toned prints, dry mounted and over matted 30 x 26 inches.

At issue is this: Mr Ratcliff's work has tremendous popularity. It also is, to my eye, overdone, too saturated and limited in its appeal (Mr Ratcliff is all about HDR photography). But is his work less credible or viable than mine based upon my credentials and his lack of same? I don't think so and there lies the sea change. 

We are going somewhere.

Stay tuned. 

Caught in a Dilemma? 2 coming up.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted May 18, 2015