I'm a 59 year old photographer, taking pictures since age 12. My first efforts were with a Zeiss Ikonta my father gave me. It was pre WWII and with an uncoated lens, but it worked and took good photographs. I made contact prints in the basement bathroom. One thing lead to another and eventually I had a fully working darkroom and have had a working darkroom pretty much since. This included a darkroom with no running water while doing my residency in family practice. That was a challenge. In high school I took all the photographs for the year book, shooting dances and basketball, hallway activities and just about anything else to do with the school. Again in university I was involved with and eventually ran the Photo Directorate which was responsible for photographs for both the university newspaper and the year book.
I was able to earn some money in university shooting team photos and residence floors, learning how to make hundreds of prints efficiently. Eventually though I had to buckle down and actually study if I wanted to get into medical school and photography took a back seat though never totally out of mind. I continued to use the Zeiss Ikonta and then the Yashica 124
While doing my Family Practice Residency at the old Edmonton General (on Jasper Avenue), I came across a small unauspicious book called the Zone VI Workshop. Written by the late Fred Picker, this small and simple book did more for the quality of my prints than all the other volumes I had read - Ansel Adams, Minor White, Zakia, Fishback, etc., etc. First he strongly recommended using a cold light head instead of a condenser enlarger. This did a lot to get rid of the harsh images I had been making. Next he taught a method of proper film development, proofing the negatives and making the fine print. it worked, I never looked back.
Another pivotal event in my education was attending a Photograph Appreciation Course at The Edmonton Art Gallery, taught by Hubert Hohn. As the weekend progressed I was pretty bored and felt I wasn't getting much out of the lectures. At one point he put up a slide for an hour - a picture of a porch - by Alfred Stieglitz. By the end of the weekend I was regretting the effort. But over the weeks and months, much of what had been said at the course started to sink in and I never looked at photographs the same way again. I learned to appreciate a much broader range of photographs. No longer limited to Ansel Adams like landscapes, I started to look at and appreciate portraits, nudes, still lifes, architectural and all sorts of other photographs.
Over the next several years I took advantage of any shows of photographs to attend and once in practice in Kentucky, I started buying books of good photographs - Ansel Adams, of course, but also Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Paul Caponigro, George Tice, and all sorts of others. I visited the University of Louisville when I heard that they had some Edward Weston prints. I donned the requisite white gloves and started looking through the plastic sleeeved photographs. Soon I came across images in which the sleeves had disintegrated and I was able to hold the actual prints (very carefully). Holding the real photograph with nothing between me and the image was very emotional for me. I could see the peak, even if I couldn't find the path.
Eventually I was able to purchase some prints. In Banff it's possible to buy Byron Harmon prints made by his grand daughter for quite reasonable prices. I attended a photographic workshop By Zone VI and Fred Picker and bought two prints from instructors. In the mid 1980's there was a photograph gallery in Calgary called Folio and they showed good photographs and brought in good photographers. I attended a workshop by Bruce Barnbaum and subsequently bought a large print of his from Folio.
About this time I became frustrated with my own work - I knew what good was and I knew I wasn't there image wise. I was quite a good printer and for the few images that I thought had staying power I could make nice prints. I gave up photography almost entirely except for the usual family snaps, for about 15 years. I got back into phoography because of some small experiments - first trying to get decent prints from my Canon Rebel, then getting inexpensive medium format equipment on ebay. This led to a great deal of experimenting with equipment though the services of ebay, buying and selling all sorts of equipment. I had a lot of fun, and got a few images that I liked.
The next step was to start dabbling in digital, first for fun, then later for serious prints. Photography got a whole lot more fun, I started shooting more subjects and more often. I started producing some images I was pleased with. I improved the equipment. I made a radical decision to abandon the wet darkroom for printing. This really made photography fun - I could pick up where I left off, the next free moment, without hassle. In the wet darkroom, it hadn't been worth going in unless I had about four hours continously free. My digital printing gradually got better, i got better printers, I started to show some of my work to friends.
Two years ago I attended an excellent photographic workshop with Keith Logan and Craig Richards. Craig is a large format black and white photographer in the grand landscape tradition and has lovely prints. Keith is an internationally recognized photographer of birds, shooting them with large format cameras and making cibachrome prints of great delicacy, using multiple contrast controlling masks. We shared our portfolios and my work seemd to hold up quite well so in the following months I decided to start showing my work more. One of the participants, Ken Miller, had a show of photographs at Photospace, a photographer run gallery in Crossroads Market (corner of Ogden Road and Blackfoot Trail). I enquired and subsequently have had my prints part of three shows there. In February I had five images accepted to Outback Photo. I submitted my photographs of the badlands to Black and White Photography, from England, and they not only wanted to publish one, they wanted to do an article. They will be in the September issue of the magazine.
My latest venture is selling my photographs at the new Calgary Farmers Market at the old Currie Barracks, off of Crowchild Trail.
Black And White Photography - Sept. 2004 - article/images of Alberta Badlands
Lenswork - March/April - 2005 - 17 industrial images
Black and White - Annual Portfolio Issue - June 2006 Focus - June 2006 - four colour industrial images
Parkhurst Exchange - a magazine for family doctors, a couple of pages of art each month
Lenswork Extended # 72 - DVD version of Lenswork - badlands images