Music and photographs were the two passions that inspired my formative years. I first experienced photography through my father’s family photos. I especially was intrigued with the development and outcome of images with the early Polaroid cameras. It’s one thing to see the images when my father showed them to us, quite another to watch them develop.
My first involvement with photography wasn’t with a camera; it was in a developing lab at summer camp. There was a darkroom where we made contact sheets. While that experience was limited, it was a springboard into a creative future.
My artistic creativity blossomed during my final two years of high school. In my family, voicing feelings was not welcomed, and certainly not encouraged. Through charcoal and pastels I started to express my feelings. Looking back, my strongest expressions were in the form of sharp contrasts when using charcoal. The more complex ones seemed to emerge when I used pastels. There was something very cathartic about getting my fingers into the pastels as I blended and formed the textures and colors. At 19, not long after high school, my hands weren’t as cooperative as they had been. It became difficult to continue using charcoal and pastels. I bought a camera.
During the time I progressed as a photographer, two major influences impacted me as an artist and my trust in sharing emotions. The first was a group of close friends that helped me believe it was safe to share my feelings without being judged. The second was my introduction to the work of Alfred Stieglitz. In the early 1900’s, Stieglitz was one of the first, if not the first photographer to declare that photography was art. I was taken with his images of the human face, and to me, some of his photographs were reminiscent of works in charcoal.
Through those growth years, my interest in portrait photography evolved. Originally it was business portraits, but along the way I gravitated towards candid images of people. Along with Stieglitz, two other photographers influenced my work. The first was Herman Leonard, legendary jazz photographer. I loved the real time feelings that his images conveyed. I got the vibe of being right there in the room, front row center, watching, hearing, and feeling Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and many others create music magic. The other was brilliant photographerJimi Giannatti. Jimi’s iconic work on Through These Eyes, portraits of seven iconic African American artists living and working in Los Angeles, gave me a window into their souls through his masterful lens art. The inspiration that these three photographers gave me are my artistic building blocks for My Picture Tells A Story.