Exhibition - December 31, 2011 - February 7, 2012 • Midland Arts and Antiques Market, Indianapolis

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2 Photographers Works In Progress

The inspiration for the 2 Photographers Works In Progress endeavor emerged from the realization that, in the digital age, the public’s perception of photography has begun to take on a disposable nature.

The advent of the widespread use of digital cameras in tandem with social network websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Twitpic and Flickr where viewers can click through photographs at break-neck speed, with no true contemplation of the image, has become the rule of the day.  The proliferation of iPhoneography along with it corresponding apps where just a click makes an inane image appear hip and in some cases nostalgic, along with other highly manipulated images via photoshop, has cheapened the creative image making process.  Millions upon millions of these images are around us everywhere, every day all vying for some part of our short collective attention span.

Yet photography as a fine art has hardly disappeared.  Many people are hard at work making excellent images using alternative processes, cameras, films, etc.  Whether or not conscious, much of this work seems to me to be a reaction to the overwhelming digital camera phenomenon.  The time, effort and care that it takes to visualize and make a photograph using film, or taking it many steps further, utilizing the wet collodion process or printing with platinum/palladium for example, produces a method and system of seeing, creating and presenting an image that takes time, thought and skill.  This is not to say that I believe photography must come from the analogue domain to have any validity.  Many photographers have been able to embrace and exploit the digital realm and produce exceptional creative images.  And, the combination of analogue and digital processes presents an opportunity to create expressive prints of remarkable quality.

As I thought more and more about the current state of photography I felt that I needed to do my little part in bringing attention to the fact that photography still has a rightful place in the fine art of self-expression.  Having studied the history and art of photography over the past twenty-five years, my love and appreciation of photography is firmly established in my spirit.

Drawing upon this experience I was reminded of the Group f.64 collective that in 1932 sought to revolutionize the art of photography by rebelling against the type of photography known as pictorialism.  At this time in history it was accepted that for a photograph to be considered art it had to appear painterly.  Effects such as soft focus, hand-manipulations and other artificial effects were used to render romantic and emotional images.

Group f.64 repudiated this tenet and showed though their work of sharp images that the art of photography need not be confined to nostalgia and dreamy images.  The f-stop 64 is the smallest aperture on a view camera lens thereby producing the longest depth of field and the sharpest image.  Members of this group included Ansel Adams, Imogene Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston and Edward Weston, among others.

The idea of Group f.64 and their achievements led me to think about what I could accomplish, albeit on a smaller scale, in defiance of the aforementioned current state of photography.

Rather than make a simple statement that could easily be ignored, I tried to imagine a better way to show what the art of photography was all about.  I realized that affording interested parties the ability to watch photographers at work could raise awareness and appreciation.  Photographers would present and describe their work on several levels - inspiration, methods and processes, locations, philosophies, etc.  The use of social networking could make this entirely possible.  The viewers would be able to access the information and explore the photographer’s work at their convenience.  I felt that an exhibition with a corresponding book was a necessity.  Periodic personal presentations could augment and personalize the project. The beauty of the endeavor is that it is a work in progress, that is it has no ending and no beginning; there are no defined limits of what must be accomplished.  All of that would be strictly up to the photographer and how they chose to pursue their vision.

So, that is the thought process along with the ideas that brought 2 Photographers Works In Progress to reality.

I decided early on that I did not want to the project to get too big, unwieldy and complicated.

Without a doubt Mike Stroup needed to be a part of this project.  Mike and I go back a long way to when we first met some time in 1986.   Over the years we’ve worked on many photography projects and exhibits together.  I’ve always admired Mike’s work.  He has an eye that sees beyond the obvious.  Even the simplest of subjects that he photographs are shown in a caring, sympathetic and spiritual manner.

I look forward to see what we come up with.  We definitely have two different personalities and approaches to the art of photography.  We are motivated and excited about sharing the experience of making our images with you.

Ron Kern
July 12, 2011
Montague, Michigan