Thursday, December 6, 2007

Modern Interpretations Show

Sorry for the long absence, but it's been a hectic fall. We just got back from a FL thanksgiving and I hope to have some pictures up from it soon. Until then, I thought I'd share the good news with you about a new show.

I just found out I had two pieces accepted to a new show at Tamarack called "Modern Interpretations" which runs from January 13th through March 16th, 2008. I can't say enough for the work Karen Lilly, the gallery director at Tamarack, has done to help create a wonderful showcase for West Virginia Artists.

I had a tough time choosing what to submit because I couldn't decide which of my pieces had "modern" sensibilities. Obviously, such a concept as modernity is subject to many interpretations, so I'm still not sure what the jurors used to make their decisions (and won't until I see the whole show), but after much agonizing, here are the pieces I submitted:

Any Questions?

Through the Looking Glass

These were the two images chosen for inclusion. The three that didn't get accepted follow:


The Shape of Color

The Story of Tomorrow

I'm not sure what separates out the first two, but it was a very fun exercise--well fun in retrospect--to struggle with what what modernity means when it comes to photography, a rather modern art form to begin with. I'd love to hear any thoughts on the photos themselves or modernity in art generally. Take care and thanks for the interest.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Finding the Words

Considering I've taught college writing and literature classes for over 15 years, it's not surprising that I find myself fascinated with language. Switching my focus to photography hasn't lessened that interest, so it shouldn't come as a shock that the second photographic series I'd like to talk about is something I'll call "Finding the Words." One of my favorite photographic subjects is the written word, whether that word be printed on a business sign or scrawled hurriedly on an alley wall. In the following entry I'll provide examples of both these types of found words and discuss the photographic relevance of these instances of visible language.

Looking for Signs
First I'd like to tackle the example of what I'll call official words, words that are printed up and serve an official, socially sanctioned, function, usually for businesses.

Here are some examples:

Onan Motors

Moving Prosthetics

Law and Order

Christian Porn

First, let me explain why I felt compelled to capture these words with my camera. In the first image, I felt an admittedly juvenile pleasure in seeing Onan--the biblical figure best know for spilling his seed and thereby associating his name to masturbation--selling engines. At least he doesn't have to worry about his idle hands any more.

The second photo was similarly motivated by a childish sense of humor. If you look carefully at the two signs on the building, one labels it as the home of Carolina Orthotics and Prosthetics. The other sign indicates that it is actually the *former* home of the company as they have moved. I found this an odd juxtaposition, a symbol of limited mobility being on the move.

The third image was taken on a Manhattan tour boat. The axe implies how serious they are about being orderly. They will enforce that rule, but it might not be clean or painless seems to be the implicit message.

The last photo was taken in Jefferson, WV, infamous for it's adult industries. I couldn't pass up the chance to capture the odd pairing of adult bookstore and evangelical church. I suppose it could provide convenience for those wanting to sin and then be forgiven immediately.

Obviously what ties all of these images together is the humor that arises from the words and their surroundings, text and context if you will. The level and quality of the irony that arises from these juxtapositions is certainly of different values in these photos. The simple, adolescent humor of the first two images for example isn't nearly as complex or interesting as the ironic pairings of the second two images that require a little more work on the viewer's/reader's part to work out. Ultimately, though, wherever these images fall on that continuum, it is this type of juxtaposition, this ironic misconnect, that draws my interest both linquistically and photographically.

The Writing on the Wall
The second type of found-word image I like to capture is graffiti. This is a much more subversive form of visible language that is usually left by the lone individual, perhaps an artist in his or her own right, without official sanction of any sort.

Here are some examples:

Corporate Biatch

Muff Graffiti

The Tombs Have Eyes

Now, these pictures don't have the same type of subversive irony that the official signs did since they are subversive on their surface, written furtively in places not originally intended for these words. Instead, an individual felt moved to make a public statement in written form. Therefore, the content of these found words carry more weight than their context for the most part.

What drew me to the first image--taken at a bus stop in Geneva, Switzerland--was perhaps another burst of adolescent immaturity. I liked the implicitely serious questioning of a very fundamental social institution, one that undergirds modern, Western capitalism--a very weighty topic--combined with the playful street slang of Biatch. Certainly this is another form of ironic conjoinment, but in this case, it is one that the author him/herself did, whether deliberately or by accident.

In the second image found in Youngstown, OH, I'm intrigued by the hastily scrawled warning to keep our hands off that boy's muff. Reading through the possible definitions for that term provided by the link, I will let you make up your own mind as to the writer's intentions. It seemed like such a random warning and yet implying such immediacy, earnestness, and specificity--not just any boy, but *that* boy--that there was another disconnect in my experience of these found words.

In the final photograph, found at a cemetery in Paris, France, are words painted on the back of a sign which translate into English as "The tombs have eyes." Now I know that the French have a fascination with and acceptance of death that we in the United States do not. When I was visiting the graveyard, for example, there were many Parisian families having picnics, enjoying the green space. Even by this standard though, this phrase was very eerie. It recontextualized the tombs for me and indeed I felt the subject of their gaze as much as they were the subject of mine. I wanted to photograph this moment of insight someone had taken the time to leave behind.

Yeah, but is it art?
Now, I have described my fascination with the found word, both official and subversive, and why I feel compelled to capture these images. However, the question remains, if I am to set about making a series of these photos, is this visible language photo worthy? If I claim to be a fine arts photography, are these images worthy of the name fine art? Needless to say, this is a very prickly question that deserves much more attention than I am prepared to give it now, but I think it ultimately boils down to the question of whether these photos have the visual aesthetics to stand as art or instead is their true impact primarily verbal. And if that is the case, does it mean that they cannot stand on their own as visual artifacts. In other words, could these photos still have value as photographs without the viewer being able to understand their verbal messages. If someone didn't read English, would they still be worth viewing, would they still "mean"? And if the answer to that is no, does that necessitate that the images aren't valuable as fine arts photography?

I think that the picture I've presented in this entry show that actually there is a spectrum from one of these extremes to another. For instance, the Moving Prosthetics image doesn't really have any visual interest other than the signs. Without that, the picture doesn't hold up on a purely visual level. However, the Muff Graffiti picture I think does work on a visual level with the dynamic movement of the hastily scrawled warning. To state it simply, some of these images are more aesthetically pleasing than others.

Obviously, this entry has gone on far too long already, so I'll leave related questions for my next entry. I am curious for now though what you think about these images. Are they worth pursuing as a series, or is their impact limited and just good for a laugh. Thanks for your interest. Take care.


Monday, August 6, 2007

First in a Series

Years ago, when I was first getting serious about photography, Dawn and I visited Savannah, GA, and fell in love with SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design. The way they have revived downtown by placing the school in abandoned buildings is very inspiring. While touring the school, I was lucky enough to meet with the chair of the photography department. When I returned home, I sent him a link to my website and asked him what I could do to improve my chances to be accepted to the MFA program. He very generously took time to look at my "portfolio"--it hardly deserved such a professional title--and gave me some advice. He said study other photographers to understand the field as it currently existed and to think beyond the single shot. He said I had a "good eye"--a nice way of saying I was a hobbyist still--but ultimately just had a bunch of snapshots. To really move forward and grow as a photographer, he told me I needed to develop ideas for series of connected images.

Needless to say, this was disappointing to a self-deluded photographer who just wanted to hear that I didn't need to apply to SCAD since my talent was so self-evident. I would be accepted without question. However, after the sting wore off, I realized he made a lot of sense. I certainly had a few themes that I was drawn to--see earlier posts for examples--but had never started with an idea first and then took pictures to embody that idea. I had always worked the other way around, just taking photos of things I responded to viscerally and afterward trying to see a narrative that connected them together.

Over the ensuing years, as I've developed as a photographer and artist, I've been thinking about Ideas and what would make a good series and have come up with a few possibilities. I wanted to take this entry to sketch out one such series. It is still very fuzzy in my head and so would love to get any feedback from you.

Food. I'm fascinated with food. Not only the consumption of it--I love to cook, love to eat--but also the ways in which it gets commodified in our culture. Needless to say, our relationship to food in the United States is different than a society that doesn't have such abundance. Only in an industrialized, rich country, for example, could food literally be a toy.

Food is a complicated commodity though because it's not just a sign of wealth or prestige, but is essential to life. Unlike most consumer items, food is actually consumed. The bare nutritive value of it gets repackaged in a variety of ways though according to social and cultural values. I'm fascinated with how we package and sell this essential item. The various brands of foodstuffs stacked on grocery store shelves have roughly the same nutrient value, no matter what brand. So what stimulates the competition for sales required in a capitalist food culture? Primarily, it's a graphical battle. The artistic design that goes into creating the labels marks the food as creating its value to consumers through how well it calls to the eye on the shelf as a graphical abstraction separate from its nutritive value. In some ways, this is a topic already well explored by the likes of Andy Warhol in his famous Campbell soup can pieces.

However, grocery stores are not the only gathering places for food in our culture. I'm also fascinated with the visual aspect of food when it is presented in restaurants. The visible markers that go into differentiating a fast food lunch at McDonald's--the paper wrappers, paper cups, and colorful cardboard containers--from a fancy dinner at a gourmet bistro--flowers and candles on the table, china, a garnish on the plate. It is a feast for the eye as well as the belly.

I became especially interested in how we interact with the food, as the consumer literally consumes the work of art. My idea was to capture the canvas of the plate *after* the consumer/eater/artist had finished eating. Here are two examples:

Chinese Meal

Mexican Meal

I like these photos because they work abstractly as art with the vibrant colors and swirls and shapes of the emptied plate. However, they also stand as testament to the consumer and the consumed. They represent both the nutritive value of the food as well as its visual impact.

One concern I have about this series is whether it would get too repetitive. Would one emptied plate eventually look just like another emptied plate? However, I think that this would be a problem for any series. If the items are connected through a strong, central, controlling idea, then isn't repetition an inherent danger? Now, I'm aware that this idea for a series isn't fully developed yet, but I remain intrigued by it. What I'm hoping is that you can tell me what you think. Is it worth pursuing? How can I further flesh out the idea behind it? The center pole needs to be strong to keep this tent up. Very curious what people think about this direction for me. If nothing else, I hope I've given you some food for thought. Ha!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


My friend Matt went to see the photography exhibit at Tamarack that has some of my photos--thanks for the support!--but he had an interesting comment to make. He thought my titles weren't all they could be. One in particular one he commented on was this one, entitled currently "Traffic Mirror":

He pointed this out as only one example of how I wasn't doing all I could with my titles. He said, "I can see it's a traffic mirror. Your title should tell me something about the image that *isn't* obvious to me." He suggested something even as simple as "Budapest, 2pm" would provide some extra-photographic information about the subject, provide an additional insight into the image.

It got me thinking about how I title my photos and what I hope to accomplish with the ones I choose. It was an interesting point and has got me thinking much more consciously about how I approach my work.

First, to provide some background, Matt is a poet. A fantastic, funny, brilliant poet. But don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself here or here. Obviously, Matt's creative work is much more verbal than mine is. Language is his focus, so of course he hones in on the only verbal part of the photograph: the title.

The question this comment initially brings to mind is what purpose does the title serve? Obviously, with any written endeavor, the title acts as a shorthand way to get a glimpse at the purpose of the overall piece of writing. Whether it's a 14 line sonnet or a 500 page novel, the title acts as a signpost to readers of what to pay attention to in the body of the work itself, even if it's only a repeated phrase from the main body of writing. The reader now knows to pay more attention to that line; they can be sure to read the whole piece with that phrase or image in mind. The title is very important tool to the writer for this reason, giving the reader a potential key to open up the piece of writing.

Obviously such a tool can be very helpful to photographers as well. It can, as Matt suggested to me, provide an extra-photographic signpost to help the viewer focus on a particular detail that s/he might not notice originally or provide some context which isn't available in the image at all. However, there is a very significant difference between photography and writing. The photographic image, by and large, is taken as a whole, absorbed all at once as a gestalt. Writing, whether it be poetry or prose, is alphabetic and must be read in a more or less linear fashion. You start reading with the first word and have to read them all in order to make sense of the piece. Obviously, I'm generalizing here and there are experimental writings out there that don't follow this strictly alphabetic ordering (I'm thinking of works like The Dictionary of the Khazars or even something as old as Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, but by and large writing is something that is intended to have a starting point and ending point and a set order of how to get from one to the other. Also, all writing, but especially poetry, has a visual element. How it is laid out on the page as well as the font used have an impact on the eye that is separable from the verbal content of the writing. This isn't true for such form poetry as Herbert's "Easter Wings" but for all writing. However, again I would say that the verbal aspects of the writing far outweigh the influence of the work as a visual artifact on the page.

Photography doesn't work this way. When you look at a photographic image, you see it all at once. Now, this doesn't mean that your eye doesn't roam around the picture, focusing on one detail and then another, but only that all the information in the photo is equally accessible and it doesn't matter what you focus on first. It's not alphabetic. Viewers will definitely "read" the image and come to understand the significance of different details as s/he focuses on different areas in the photo, but there is no set order, no set starting or ending point.

Because of how differently viewers of photographs and readers of poetry or prose access the information encoded in the work, I think titles serve different functions for photography and writing. Titles aren't as important to the photographer since s/he has already given up so much control over how the viewer interacts with the image since photography lacks the alphabeticity of writing. I think this is one reason photography as a field has such a strong tradition of leaving photographs as untitled or merely tagging images with such literal titles as "Tree in Field" or "Child on Sled."

Another reason for this history of "generic" titles is photography's long tradition outside of "artistic" fields, working in such areas as advertising, portraiture, and journalism. Poetry doesn't have a non-artistic tradition per se. Photography however has a lot of tradition from these fields where the image is supposed to be a realistic, accurate representation of the subject. According to these traditions, no interpretation is necessary, so there is no need for the title to act as a guide.

Lastly, photography has long been tagged as a technology that has the best chance to accurately reproduce "reality." A reader of a poem or a novel expects to have to do some work to puzzle out the meaning of the written word. Interpretation is necessary to uncover the purpose behind the work. Photography certainly also skews reality. When the photographer chooses a subject and frames the shot, deciding what to exclude, s/he is staging reality just as much as any writer does. The physics of the camera itself also alter "realty" as it transforms a three-dimensional subject into a two-dimensional image. However, the camera is seen as a much better tool for providing a truly indexical sign (at least as close as it can get) of what it captures than a pen. Just look at the weight a court of law will place on a photograph for example over witness testimony. This cultural valuation of photography as being closer to reality than a written description also plays into why titles aren't as essential to the image as opposed to a piece of writing. No signpost is necessary to find the subject if the subject is already readily accessible.

So much for the theoretical, abstract portion of the blog discussion. Let's get down to specific examples and my particular approach to naming my images. I think Matt is right in that I often tend towards giving my photos simple, generic titles. For example, this photo which I called simply "Boot":

Why such a generic title? I mean, Matt is right. Duh! A boot? No kidding! Hadn't noticed the big freaking boot in the middle of the picture! One reason I used this title was because it was easy. I needed to give it a title to send off to a show. Also, such a concrete, simple title makes sense considering my artistic approach to photography. As I say in my artist's statement, my photography "engages the mundane objects of everyday life, the things that have become invisible to us, and rescues them from the background into which they vanish." A title such as "Boot" only re-emphasizes the concrete, mundane object, pointing where I want the focus to be.

What else could I call it? Worn Boot? Boot Fence? Booted? They are all perfectly serviceable, but I'm not sure what they add to the viewer's appreciation of the image itself. Do any of these titles speak more fully to any of you? Do any of them make the picture more interesting or meaningful? I would love to hear about your reactions?

As another example, one that I am currently struggling to title:

I initially was going to call it simply "Legs." This would fall in with the titles I often use, but for some reason, this doesn't really satisfy me. Sure, it's a picture of legs, but that is not really the point of the image. These particular legs obviously have a historical and cultural specificity that the title "Legs" doesn't take into account. What would be more meaningful? Here are some of the titles I'm toying with: Crucifixion, Nailed, Weathered Legs, Patina, Les Pieds. This last has some interesting possibilities since the picture was taken in a Parisian graveyard and this title provides the extra-photographic information suggesting that origin. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

One exception to this whole discussion of titles and photography are for images that have been so heavily manipulated that they have lost their indexical power. For example:

The viewer is completely unable to tell what the original subject was. It's been completely set adrift from the object in the original photo that I manipulated. Here is what I worked from, a photograph entitled "Bridge Warts":

The manipulation of that image removed it's ability to represent it's subject. Someone looking at the abstract manipulation would be hard pressed to realize what it is a representation of. In this case, a title becomes just as important to the image as it does to any piece of writing, perhaps even more so. Without the anchor of the image's indexical nature, the viewer can make real use of a title's signpost to suggest a direction to take his/her interpretation of the photograph. I haven't settled on a final title for this image, but am considering Spheres, Orbs, Mitosis, and perhaps my favorite, Division.

Thank you for reading my incredibly long rumination on titles. Especially thanks to Matt for making me think. Take care.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Tamarack Photography Exhibit, up through July 8th

Sorry for the delay, but my iMac's hard drive decided to rewrite itself in a most inconvenient way. My computer is back up and running as am I. Yesterday, I attended the opening reception for opening of the West Virginia's Photography exhibit at Tamarack. It'll be up through July 8th, so if you are nearby, please go see it.

The gallery director, Karen Lilly, has done a fantastic job in setting up the show, an exhibit that does a nice job of showing the wide-ranging interests and subjects of West Virginia photographers. Everything from traditional landscapes to digitally manipulated abstracts are represented. Some of my favorite pieces were by Steve Payne, Paul Hartmann, and Paige Dalporto.

Besides the quality of the pieces in the show, I am especially excited about this exhibit since I have more pieces in it than in any other show I've been in. Here are some of the photographs I have on display currently:

This picture is of a traffic mirror I saw in Budapest, Hungary. It was the only photo I took while there that I knew was a keeper.

This photography is why I don't understand people who only take black & white photographs. The colors in this image almost make me ache they are so vibrant and powerful. I really do have a strong physical reaction to this photograph every time I look at it.

This is another example of my fascination with creepy dolls and mannequins. Interestingly, there are many who look at this picture and see the doll as cute or nostalgic. It gives me nightmares, but in a good way.

This might be the photo I've taken that I like the most. Hardly anyone else has liked this image as much as I do, but I feel like I stumbled up this great tableau or still life and really like the composition of the shot. Artistic prerogative I guess.

I found this scene on a beach in Menton, France, and it spoke to me on many subliminal levels. The creepiness of the face mask, reminiscent of a death mask with the broken glass eyes, really begged me to shoot it. I obliged. I like the very limited color palate of the scene as well.

This is a crop of a picture I took of an old manual typewriter. I have taken many pictures of this typewriter, but none I was happier with. The rows of metal arms looking like a row of teeth give the typewriter a real personality.

This scene is from a VW junkyard north of Parkersburg, WV. I was very excited when we stumbled onto the scene and planned to take many, many photos and sort them out later. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died about 10 shots into the shoot. I put in my back up batteries and they were already dead. *sigh* I plan to stop again on my next trip to Columbus. I love the colors of the yellow and green bugs, so vibrant next to the rust of the ramshackle hulks.

Please let me know what you think of any of these photos. If you get a chance, be sure to stop at Tamarack too. Thank you and take care.


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Artistic Statement Response

Matt Morris responded to my Artistic Statement post with some interesting comments. I'll go ahead and quote them in full:

"Good to know your artistic vision. I wonder if you could comment on the reason you take photos, what you want to give your audience, what you want the viewer to come away with."

Interesting questions, questions whose simplicity mask the difficulty I have in answering them. I thought I would take the opportunity of this post to publicly struggle with them. I'll post a sample picture to use as a concrete example of one of my photos to anchor the discussion.

Here is another photo I took at the University of Charleston, one of a series I took in their practice lab for the nursing program. I call this picture "Patient X3"

Taking Matt's questions one at a time, it's hard for me to answer the generic question "why do you take photos?" because it's just an urge that I'm not sure is analyzable. I see certain images and know that I want to save them. I can't draw or paint, so the camera as the most democratic of all art tools is my only option.

A corollary to that question though, and one that is only slightly more answerable, is "why did you take *this* picture?" What is it that drew me to this room full of mannequins dressed up like hospital patients? I remember walking down the hallway, going to teach a class when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this hospitalized dummy staring at me with those dead eyes and I felt a chill run through my body. It was a very eerie image just glimpsed with my peripheral vision. This is how I often find my best pictures, from the edge of my vision, unexpected and unbidden. Why I feel drawn to creepy, disturbing images is a topic for another post, but I think that these unsettling images speak volumes about cultural taboos and what we hide from ourselves as a society. That unfocused eeriness--it's only a mannequin in a bed, why should it be so disturbing?--is what drew me to this image.

I'll take Matt's second and third questions as one since they ultimately deal with the relationship of the artist and the viewer. What do I hope to communicate with the viewer and what do I want them to take away from this image? In an certain way, I never think about the viewer when I'm taking a photograph, unless you count me as a viewer. I take pictures of images that I'm drawn to, so I guess an unspoken assumption behind my approach is that others will have a similar pull towards these images and a similar interest in exploring the disturbing and creepy.

What do I want them to take away? I have to say, this is another issue that seldom enters my mind in a conscious way. Partly this is because it touches on a very vexing postmodern dilemma. If as Barthes, Foucault and others say, the author (or artist generally) is dead, then what position is that creator in to dictate what the audience takes away from the artwork? As I've already said, I'm not always able to fully articulate what message or meaning *I* take away from this image, so in a world where the viewer/reader is fully in charge of finding meaning in/from art, how am I going to be able to communicate my "take-home message" to people who look at this photograph? I would love to hear how others view this image. One of the best things about art photography for me is how many different ways viewers can react to it. So I find Matt's questions both interesting and frustrating because like most good questions, I don't have a definitive answer. The discussions, the back and forth, is all we have. Take care.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Artistic Statement

Every time someone finds out I'm a photographer, I get a variation of the same two questions: "What kind of photography do you do?" or "What do you like to take pictures of?" I usually answer the first with an answer of art photography--I hope that doesn't sound as pretentious as I think it does--mainly as a way to distinguish what I do from portrait or nature photography. Both of those obviously are very often "art" as well, but they have a specific function alongside their identity as art that my work generally doesn't fit into.

The second question is tougher for me to answer. I feel more like I have a certain style than a particular subject matter I'm drawn to. Even describing what that "style" is can be difficult though as I try to think of what ties together some very disparate scenes and objects that I feel drawn to. I have often used the term Americana to describe what I like to shoot, but that is such a vague term as to be almost useless. I love to shoot scenes of decay. Sometimes these are technological decay as in abandoned factories or junkyards, and sometimes they are human decay as in cemetaries and the statues and markings we put up in those places to find meaning in death and loss. However, this is only one facet of a wide range of subjects I find myself wanting to capture and explore with the camera. Like I said, a question I struggle to answer succinctly.

I bring up this topic because I've been struggling to write an artistic statement that will be placed on the wall next to my photos at the next Tamarack show, starting in May. In a couple of paragraphs I needed to summarize my work and my approach to photography generally. I wanted to post what I came up with to see how it sounded to others. I've gone through about 5 drafts of it and don't think I can change it anymore without getting some outside input. These types of documents of self-promotion are the toughest things to write, and this has been no different.

Here it is:

To steal a phrase from William Eggleston, as a photographer Riley Vann is at war with the obvious. His art engages the mundane objects of everyday life, the things that have become invisible to us, and rescues them from the background into which they vanish. This may involve more abstract studies in texture and light or a cultural anthropological “dig,” focusing on objects that act as signposts and touchstones for a range of social values and concerns. While his subject matter may vary, all of his images strive to find the beautiful in the strange and the strange in the beautiful.


If nothing else, you now have a little window into what I try to do as a photographer, or at least my struggle to define what my vision is for my art. As you see more and more pictures on the blog, you can judge for yourself how accurate this statement is. Take care.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I can't believe I made a blunder in my very first post! I wasn't crazy with the version of Switches that I put up in my last post, and David Burpee very kindly did some edits and sent me a version. Something sparked when I saw his version and I realized I'd uploaded the wrong version of the shot! This is the version that is up at Tamarack currently:

As you can tell, my earlier concerns have been remedied somewhat. The color balance is much better and the cropping on the right helps balance out the picture. I think, though, that I cropped it too closely on the sides so it feels claustrophobic for me, but it's a much better version than the earlier one I'd uploaded. Well, two posts, one mistake already. Hey, it's a process. Take care.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First Post

This is my first post on my first photo blog. I'm hoping it will provide motivation for me to work on new images and think out loud through new projects as well as a chance to get some feedback from others who are interested in photography. I have given up teaching English after 15 years in order to focus on my photography and graphic design work, and it sometimes feels isolating after facing roomfuls of people every day, so please feel free to let me know what you think of what you see here.

I'm going to start off with a couple of pictures that are currently on display at the gallery in Tamarack, a showcase for West Virginia arts, near Beckley, WV.

This photo was taken in the basement of the University of Charleston. I loved the repetition of shapes and of the textures in this image. I either need to go reshoot these switches or go back and re-edit the image though because I'm not very happy with my cropping of the picture. The switches are too hemmed in on the left side and it feels claustrophobic and a little unbalanced the longer I look at it. Thoughts?

This image is the other photograph I have at Tamarack currently and is my wife's favorite. I don't usually take a lot of landscape photography mainly because to take really good landscape shots that don't look like any postcard you could buy, you have to have great imagination, patience, and skill. A willingness to get dirty doesn't hurt either. Most of my landscape shots are lucky if they even reach the level of postcard photography. This one however, was twisted enough to really capture my eye. It's a reflection of a hillside in late afternoon in a mud puddle. I have turned the image 180ยบ in order to make it appear as the landscape itself and not a reflection. It is very disorienting and unsettling until you figure out what the image actually is doing. I'm very happy with the composition and idea behind this photo. Straight landscape I'm not so good at; *surreal* landscape is more my cup of tea.

Thanks for checking out my very first photoblog. I will update as regularly as I can. I am going to Boston this weekend and hope to take some good photos there. If anyone has any must-shoot subjects up there, please let me know. Take care.