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.
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 a good Nikon sale going that day years ago. Nikon and Canon are both caliber systems and very equivalent. Once you begin with a manufacturer’s system, people generally stay with it because they have all their lenses. Today, there’s 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…and many 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. A noteworthy point: the first 100,000 pictures you make don’t really count.
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 fee for access. I never mind doing this because access is key to making good images. You have to be right in there 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. There’s no real target in mind…it’s just exploration. 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 you’ll find some of the most interesting nuggets.