A Conversation About Photography

written by: Robert Hirsch, A. D. Coleman

We asked two of our favorite writers and well-respected critics of photography to get together to talk about photography. Here are some topics, thoughts and talking points from their discussions. On their personal introduction to photography. Robert Hirsch: I learned the rudiments of photography from my dad in his basement darkroom at age 11. This set me on the path of earning my BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology and MFA from Arizona State University and pursuing a life in the field as an imagemaker, curator, gallery director, professor and writer. A. D. Coleman: My introduction to photography as a Read more »


Seeing the Life in Which We Live

written by: A. D. Coleman

Harold Feinstein is a true photographer’s photographer, and one of the most seriously under-recognized senior figures in U.S. photography. Until the beginning of this new century he was best known as a highly respected independent teacher of photography whose private workshops (conducted mostly in his Manhattan studio) influenced hundreds of people in the field, including Mary Ellen Mark, Ken Heyman, Mariette Pathy Allen and others. Yet at long last, now past the age of 80, Feinstein’s work has become familiar to an increasingly wide audience. Feinstein was considered by the photo world as something of a child prodigy. Born in Read more »


Keith Carter

written by: Robert Hirsch

Keith Carter has been called a transcendental realist for his hauntingly enigmatic and mythological toned photographs that blend the animal world, popular culture, Southern folklore and religion from his East Texas home. Carter has published over a dozen mono- graphs and teaches photography at Lamar University where he holds the Endowed Walles Chair of Visual and Performing Arts. The following represents a condensation of our recent exchanges. Robert Hirsch: How has your background affected your imagemaking? Keith Carter:I’m a self-taught photographer from a Southern culture on the Texas-Louisiana border. My mom was a single parent who made a living as Read more »


Brian Ulrich’s Copia

written by: Robert Hirsch, Brian Ulrich

After the attacks of 9/11, President Bush encouraged Americans to go shopping, equating consumerism with patriotism. Brian Ulrich’s Copia was a response to that advice, “a long-term photographic examination of the peculiarities and complexities of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. Through large-scale photographs taken within both the big-box retail stores and the thrift shops that house our recycled goods, Copia explores not only the everyday activities of shopping, but the economic, cultural, political and social implications of commercialism and the roles we play in over-consumption and as targets of advertising.” Copia unfolds in three acts, each representing a Read more »

The Wolf On My Island, 2011. 15x22 inches. Handmade book, illustrated with toned gelatin silver photographs.

Brian Taylor and the Photographic Narrative

written by: Robert Hirsch

Brian Taylor innovatively explores alternative processes including historic nineteenth century printing techniques, mixed media and handmade books. Taylor is a Professor of Art in the photography program at San Jose State University where he has taught for 30 years. The following are highlights from our recent discussions. Robert Hirsch: How would you describe your artistic voice? Brian Taylor: My photographic practice involves visualizing the poetic interior views of my subjects and communicating these visions to others. Most photographers act as hunters in search of a preexisting scene: without a specific image in mind, they stalk the elusive “wild” photograph. In Read more »


Mia Fineman

written by: Robert Hirsch

Although digital imaging has raised society’s awareness about how camera images are constructed, the practice of hand altering photographs has existed since the medium was invented. Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is the first major exhibition devoted to the history of how photographers have actively interacted with pictures before the digital age. Following the curatorial premise that “there is no such thing as an absolutely unmanipulated photograph,” the project offers a stimulating view on the history of photography as it traces the medium’s link to visual truth by concentrating on how images were changed after the camera capture. It does Read more »


Arthur Tress: Documentary Fiction

written by: Robert Hirsch

Arthur Tress is an American experimental photographer who utilizes his anthropological background to construct astonishing, dream-like expressions of his interior landscapes. Tress’s fictions, made up of ordinary objects set in commonplace environments, are organized to reveal their underlying psychological associations. Tress’s direct involvement with his subject matter generates tension between the formalism of the photograph and the subjectivity of his personal vision, creating a new hybrid form: documentary fiction. The resulting unexpected juxtapositions construct surrealistic non-sequiturs in which outer reality merges with the inner mind. The following is a distillation of recent exchanges between Tress and myself. Robert Hirsch: How Read more »


Carl Chiarenza: Transmutation

written by: Robert Hirsch

Over the years Carl Chiarenza’s photographs have evolved from tightly framed, documentary-style images into a vocabulary of visual abstraction. He achieved this by taking leave of the natural landscape and constructing collages from scrap materials for the purpose of being photographed under a copy stand with a 4×5 view camera. Chiarenza’s luminous, meticulously crafted black and white photographs remove his subject from the everyday world of color. This allows his images to transcend their specific subject matter and evoke an inner state of consciousness that grapples with his subject matter beyond its external structure. Chiarenza’s spirit of experimentation disrupts customary Read more »


Vintage JPEG on the Fly

written by: David Vestal

“I photograph on unplanned impulse when I’m moved by what I see. It’s not predictable. For me, acceptable imperfection is the price of spontaneity, and that’s often a good bargain.” On Systems In both traditional chemical and digital photography there are systems for photographing things that hold still while the photographer calculates. These include the Ansel Adams-Fred Archer zone system of pre-planned film exposure and development and a newer digital method that combines separate exposures for the subject’s light, midtone and dark areas to get optimum print tones and colors over the whole exposure range. The results can be quite Read more »


The Fantastical Machines of Wayne Martin Belger

Enter into a darkroom and make a small round hole in the window shade that looks out onto a bright outside scene. Hold a piece of translucent paper 6-12 inches from the hole and you will see what is outside the window. This optical phenomenon, which has been known since ancient times, provides the basis for making pinhole (camera) photographs. Wayne Martin Belger’s philosophical approach to his subjects utilizes this phenomenon to build fantastical handmade pinhole cameras, which he then operates to create his images. Robert Hirsch: How did you get involved in photography? Wayne Martin Belger: In the mid-1990s Read more »