The camera I use to create these photographs is part of the art itself. As a result of lens and camera experimentation plus modifying the lenses on my professional commercial cameras, I made a hybrid camera constructed from a Russian twin lens-reflex and a 1970s Polaroid camera. It’s a tough and unusual instrument to use: With twin lenses, 1 lens for viewing the subject and another to capture the exposure I can’t see through the modified shooting lens or focus with precision, which leaves a lot of the vision up to my intuition. In addition, the film needs to be immediately processed in the field, a cumbersome process requiring a tank of water and a bit of chemistry. This time-consuming method is a throwback to an earlier time when photography was a slower, more hands-on art form. Using this style and technique, the end result is always somewhat serendipitous.
These photographs are taken spontaneously, when inspired by the scenery along a highway or lonesome back road. The subject matter leans toward the mundane and ordinary, landscapes, which most would never turn their heads to see. But being present in the moment, I enjoy approaching something bleak — a repetitive fruitless orchard on a cloudy fall day — or ugly and out of place — a railroad tie seeming to be freeing itself of the tracks or a dirt field — and turn it into a graphic image full of life and meaning. During the process of finding a place to capture, setting up, and shooting, I fight the urge to preconceive each frame, preferring to leave the process up to chance. One session often yields just eight or nine frames, no more than 20 if I shoot an entire day. My hybrid camera produces square images. They are never cropped; I print them as they are captured on acid-free 100% cotton Rag fine art paper to create images ranging in size from 10 to 40 inches in width.
My interest in photography began the summer between my 12th and 13th birthdays. I was in Berkeley, CA, visiting my uncle, an accomplished fine art photographer. The science, technology, and vision he shared with me quickly became second nature. I went on to attend Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. My career in fine art photography started later, however, from a personal exercise in rejuvenating my enthusiasm for my work as a commercial photographer while living in Los Angeles. I began trying new techniques to infuse a unique and edgy style into my commercial work. The result of that period of development was the Polaroid-hybrid camera. While it ended up being too difficult to shoot and predict on a commercial basis, this camera sparked a new relationship with photography for me that has continued ever since. The process of creating imagery with the hybrid camera has sustained my pursuit to create inspired photography and propelled my interest in the art of photography to greater heights.