Photographs, to me, are much more than just an image on a print. They embody, not only something I saw at the time but, something I felt. They also take on a historical significance. Perhaps this is why Ansel Adams has meant so much to me and why he has had such a direct influence on my photography as a whole. Adams learned how to “pre-visualize” and was able to pass that on to me through his books. It saddens me that I was never fortunate enough to meet him before his passing.
Luck of the Irish! I was born in Shamrock, Texas, October 25, 1959. I grew up as a normal kid with parents that struggled to make ends meet. I graduated from High School in Spearman, Texas at the age of 17 and the very day I turned 18, went to work for General Telephone (GTE). I started out as a lineman and lived in motel rooms in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, working three weeks at a time before we could come home. A coworker introduced me to 35mm photography and I soon bought a Yashica GSN 35mm rangefinder camera. As I was able to afford them, I bought a wide angle and a telephoto adapter for the camera since it had a fixed lens. Soon, I realized that the camera would not do the things I wanted it to so in 1978 I went to the camera store in Amarillo, Texas and bought an Olympus OM-1 MD. That was a great camera and I had it for years until it was stolen in the fall of 2001. Not long after that I hooked up with an old friend of my older brother’s and I began shooting wedding photos. I charged $20 to do my first wedding! Things moved along quickly from there. I bought a Mamiya medium format camera and began taking portraits. I was taught a lot of things by some excellent photographers in the Texas panhandle and will be forever grateful to them for their help.
By April 1984, the photography hobby had turned into a successful photography business. By this time I had grown weary of shooting photographs for other people. The real joy in photography was me with my camera and not having to please anyone but me. So, I packed my bags and moved my family to a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend a two year Bible college.
While in Bible school, I hung out with the staff photographer and helped him on some assignments. Then I spent some years in the ministry as a pastor (I am still an ordained minister). I finally ended up living in Alvin, Texas. I had still been doing some of the fine art photography and around the year 1990, ended up trading a motorcycle for a view camera and an old 4×5 enlarger. Photography took on a whole new perspective with the view camera. From that time I began to perfect my craft. The Zone System that Ansel Adams developed came into play now more than it ever had since I could shoot individual sheets of film and develop them differently when it was needed.
As we look back on our lives it is easy to see the different phases that we have passed through. The next phase for me came when I moved to Utah in June 1993. My marriage was horrible, the lease on my house was up and a job offer was given to me in Salt Lake City with Amoco Oil Company, who I had been working for the past three years. I siezed the opportunity and moved to Utah. I had never been to the state but I knew there were mountains and that would be more to see and photograph than what the Gulf Coast of Texas had to offer.
The move to Utah seemed to bring a complete change in my life. My wife and I divorced. I was able to raise both of my children and I met my new wife and married her in 1996. Photography has become much more deeply rooted inside of me and, if this makes any sense, my eye has grown and developed to where I can see more than I ever did before. Living in Salt Lake City gives me the opportunity to photograph what many photographers only dream of. We have, surrounding us, the canyonlands area of Utah, the mountains of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. It is just a short drive to The Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. California is also very close by. This truly is a fine art/landscape photographer’s paradise.
As I glance back through my negative files, I see the things in life that have caught my eye over the years. Doors; perhaps because many times they lead to the unknown which has seemed to be such a big part of my life. Religious subjects; it is interesting to me how religion, right or wrong, has made such an influence in the world in which we live. From the Bible belt to the religious relics that have been left to us by the Spaniards in the Southwest, I am fascinated by it all. Architecture; maybe it is the story an old building can tell or perhaps it is the memories I have as a child of the old wooden floors and the ceiling fans at the old malt shop that is now ready to be condemned or the grocery store that once bustled with business but has long since had its doors locked and only ghosts of the past now enter. Whatever it is, I feel that God has placed in me, a calling in life to capture these things. Whether it is a leaf in the woods or a windmill standing bravely against the hot Texas wind, the photograph I make of the subject immortalizes it. Just as the other great masters have passed on, I surely will also when it is my time. The photographs I make though, will live much longer than me, sharing a part of me and the subject which I was fortunate enough to experience and capture on film.
As you take a look at the photographs I have made, let me encourage you to be, not a viewer, but rather, a participant. Let your imagination take control and see yourself with me, gazing at the scene, as the camera’s shutter captured these precious moments in time!