Did you take all these pictures?
Well, heck yeah.
Believe it or not, I hear that frequently in the show booth and it might be someone is only looking for something to say. However, it may really be an honest question because there is so much to see hanging on the walls of the booth. There are horses, landscapes, railroads, junk cars, junk trucks, lakes, old doors and windows, abandoned buildings, funny skeletons, streams, urbex, gas pumps, abstracts, waterfalls, cemeteries, snow images, and more. There’s quite a varied pile of images, so maybe it’s no wonder they ask if I created all of it. One guy doesn’t usually cover so many bases; shooters often specialize.
The world is wide and full of things…these subjects are some of the things that have interested me and I’ve photographed intensively for years.
You must have a lot of pictures.
Yes, I’ve got a pile of backlogged stuff. A big, scary pile that’s into six figures. And to top off the definition of photographic neurosis, I still go out and shoot more stuff regularly. It’s that rambling jones, the need to create, and a fascination with photography that does it. It really is a simple equation.
Why did you begin to write about the images?
The very first time selling at an art show, it was immediately apparent I needed to have something to say to people when they came into my booth. I hadn’t thought of that! The best on-the-spot solution was to tell them about the images.
Over time I got better at storytelling with more to say and surprisingly, sales increased too. I learned that people simply like to have more illumination about a picture. It’s just natural human curiosity. In fact, I’ve found there is always a back story and more to tell besides the image alone.
Eventually, I wrote some of the stories down and put them onto the back of the prints with a big sticker. Sales increased once more which proved the theory again. I naturally enjoy writing and communicating, but I’ve worked at becoming a better writer and storyteller. It’s fun to write. And wonderfully so, it is yet another creative outlet running parallel to the photography. Today, both image and story come twinned together and I’m trying to tell the story of every image that goes onto this website.
Jokingly, in this work with images combined with stories, all I’m really doing at the bottom of it all is adult show and tell.
How did you find all these things to photograph?
The images have come through any way you can think of, from simply driving around looking for stuff to referrals from friends or people I’ve met at shows. I’ve even found great places to shoot looking through the brochure rack at motels.
There are times I’ll pay a special fee for access. I never mind doing this because access is key to making good images. You have to get right in there, get your antenna up, and have the time to work the subject without interference. By the way, I never trespass out of respect and always ask permission. Asking has opened up more doors afterward than you’d ever expect too, it’s surprising.
One of the most fun methods to find things to photograph has been to simply ramble the way-back roads with the antenna up and the eyes open. That suits a guy like me with a natural rambling jones. There’s no real target in mind…it’s just exploration to go and see. It is also the most inefficient way of all to gather up a portfolio, but certainly the most fun, especially with a friend. It’s on those back roads were some of the most interesting nuggets lie.
Have you been selling at art shows a long time?
Yes, nearly twenty years across the eastern US for a full time living. It’s been thousands of miles a year and up to sixty motel nights during the season. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’m thankful to have traveled extensively and seen many things. I often shoot during a show run and that’s how the portfolio grew to contain images from 22 states. For instance, I’ve often purposely scheduled shows in Michigan or Minnesota to be able to photograph around the Great Lakes.
Do you do portraits and weddings?
No, I’m primarily a fine art photographer creating images for wall art to hang in homes and offices. In another capacity, I create images for magazines and texts as stock photography. Stock images are out of the scope of this fine art website, but over time those pictures have been published in half the countries of the world.
I do enjoy photographing people but dislike the portrait business. I can create a decent portrait, but it’s only been for relatives like my nieces for senior portraits. Interestingly, one of the best times I’ve ever had with a camera was chasing a four-year-old around with a 50mm lens. Just try to keep the nearest eye in focus!
And no, I wouldn’t touch a wedding gig with a ten-foot pole!
What kind of camera do you use?
I’ve used Nikon all the way as a pro, but it could have just as easily been Canon if the local camera store didn’t have such a good Nikon sale going that day years ago. Nikon, Canon, and Sony are all caliber systems and very equivalent. Once beginning with a manufacturer’s system, people generally stay with it because they have all their lenses. Today, I’m thankful for a small arsenal of good glass and I regularly use a D3s, D810, and a converted D750 for infrared. I also keep a small and easy to carry Sony RX100 with me most of the time because you never know when you might see something interesting.
Did you go to school to learn photography?
No, I’m entirely self-taught mostly through trial and error. But the truth is many shooters actually are. My seat-of-the-pants education was also furthered by two bookshelves packed with photography books along with a high fascination of anything photographic and expressive. I also did a lot of picture taking early on because I was fascinated by it. And I still am too. A noteworthy point: the first 100,000 pictures you make don’t really count.