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Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I was born in Whittier CA where both parents grew up but we moved to Palm Desert by the time I was 2. I was there until moving to San Marcos when I was 9. Then we moved to Escondido when I was 14 and then Carlsbad for six years during college, then Norfolk VA, Biloxi MS, Edwards CA, and now San Antonio TX where I’ve lived the past 6 years. I love it here.
What equipment do you use? What was your first camera and how did you get it? Do you remember the first photo you took?
Currently for 35 mm film I am mainly shooting with a Voigtlander rangefinder and I also shoot a fair amount of medium format film with a Pentax. For pictures of my family, kids’ sports games, parties, and that kind of thing I use a digital SLR. I carry a small point and shoot film camera in my bag that goes with me to work every day – I mainly use it to shoot things from my car when I’m driving around. My first camera was a Kodak instamatic that shot 110 film. I was about 7 at the time. My dad got it for me for Christmas. I don’t remember the very first photo I took with it, but I remember the first roll – lots of pics of Legos. My dad later gave me my first “real” camera when I was 13 or so – his Minolta SLR that he bought in 1970 or so.
Who and/or what influenced you to start taking photos? When did you start? Was this something that you always had an interest in? Were you formally trained?
I suppose my dad giving me cameras as gifts is what got me started but he just told me how to use them and sent me on my way to do what I wanted with them. I was always interested, but with the cost of film and developing I couldn’t afford to do much shooting as a kid. In middle school I had a paper route so with a bit of spending money I started shooting the Minolta a fair amount – slide film. Mostly those were just documenting our skateboarding and BMX exploits at the time. In college I majored in visual arts with emphasis in photography so I suppose I’m formally trained, but I only got the basics as far as technical instruction. The emphasis in the department was more on the ideas and art making process. I would have liked more technical instruction but have taught myself all that I’ve wanted to learn since then just by experimenting.
Your images are Black and White; Do you ever work in color? What do you feel you achieve with your photos that might not translate in color?
I shoot color in digital and also keep color film in the point and shoot. I like working in color but for film I prefer black and white because of the look of it, also because I can develop and print it myself – I love everything about the black and white film developing and printing processes and feel a lot more connected with my black and white stuff because of that. It is time consuming but well worth it. Being in the darkroom is a refuge – very peaceful.
Do you ever work in digital?
Yes, digital for family pics, parties, kids’ sports, vacations, and stuff like that. I like it in those roles. I have Photoshop software but do very little manipulating – I enjoy seeing what others do with image manipulation, but I just don’t have the free time to experiment. When I’m using film I shoot things more deliberately and I like knowing that as long as I store my negatives well, they will last far into the future and won’t require backing them up to CDs/hard drive, no risk of erasing the files, and the format will never become obsolete like I worry about happening over time with digital images.
You seem to have documented Carlsbad in the 90s with your photos, specifically the “local” spots, was this your goal or were you just looking for aesthetically pleasing shots?
At the time in the mid 90s I would walk around a lot with my camera, wherever I was, just to see what I could get. I spent a lot of time walking along the beach both for exercise and to just be out in the nice weather and people watch. I didn’t intentionally set out to document that era in the town but some of my pictures work in this role I suppose.
Many of your photos capture the interaction between people and their environment (joggers, beach viewers, walkers, entertainers), is this interaction something you sought out?
Not consciously, but if I analyze my way of shooting at the time, I was definitely drawn to wherever stuff was happening. In such settings people were often already shooting pictures – it’s what tourists do – so I could shoot away without anybody giving me any grief.
How did living by the ocean, the village and in Carlsbad as a whole impact your photography?
It’s a beautiful place, and there is always something going on down by the beach. There was a good variety of people to make it interesting. I was never hassled for carrying a camera around. This was all pre-9/11 and since then cameras in public can be problematic. I don’t know if it would still be as easy to wander around shooting stuff there.
Your photos of “the bars” bring back many memories. How did you feel about them as a Carlsbad local and as an artist?
Mixed thoughts – I didn’t find them aesthetically pleasing in that location but got used to them and didn’t mind them after a while. As you can see from my images, they made that spot more dynamic from a photography standpoint. I found it funny but sadly wasteful of public funds when I heard the city had to pay a lot of money just to take it down after they spent a large sum of money to have it built; if people were more involved in the planning stages, they might have found something different to commission for that location that would have been more agreeable to the public.
Regarding the photo with the man through “the bars” walkway and the seagull, how did you capture this?
As I framed the shot, I thought even with just the guy and no bird it was a potentially good image. When the bird drifted in, it was a no-brainer. I find it a very pleasant image – I’d like to be doing something similar with my mornings as a retiree someday.
What is your artistic relationship with the Encina Power plant? Do you have many photos of it? As a local, would you miss its presence if it was removed?
From where I lived during my 6 years in Cbad, it loomed large in the view from where I lived. I was just used to it. It is in a fair number of my photos just because it is so massive. I don’t remember ever intentionally trying to frame it out of a shot or anything. I don’t know how I’d feel if it went away. It would feel weird to have it gone – it’s been there ever since I first started coming to the beach there in the 70s. Why, is there a movement to dismantle it?
When you juxtapose elements in your photos (trashcan/water fountain, joggers/power plant), is there an underlying message? or is it merely a visual experience?
Usually I have no intended underlying message with these kind of shots. Sometimes it works out that certain things juxtaposed stimulate thoughts that add another layer to an image. I just try to keep my mind open as I shoot, take a lot of pictures, and see if I get lucky.
What is the story behind the man throwing up the peace sign while taking a photo?
I was hanging around near the bars and he seemed to be a tourist trying to get his group to look in his direction for the shot.
How often did you have your camera with you during the time when you were taking most of your photos? Were you always on the lookout for that next photo?
At that time in my life I almost always had my camera with me. I guess I was always looking out for the next thing that interested me or the light hitting something in a neat way.
What visual elements caught your attention?
A lot of times it was just the way the light hits stuff. I know that in itself doesn’t make a good image, but it increases one’s chances. So mornings and late afternoon/early evening were my favorite times to go looking around for pictures. I also am drawn to buildings and places that look a little run-down – they look cool. But my pictures of such places don’t usually end up working very well. Maybe they would if I had more of a connection with them than just driving or walking by?
As an artist in Carlsbad, how do you feel you environment affected your art? Were people interested in your photos? What were the reactions of people when you were out shooting in public places?
Living there was good since there was a lot of stuff going on and good scenery and weather that permits a person to spend a lot of time outdoors. My friends seemed interested in my photos but if others were, it would be news to me. I never put them up in a show or anything. Out in public at the time, I can’t recall ever having anyone giving me a hassle for shooting. Some people I got to know since I often covered the same route along the beach at the same time every day. The picture of the two men standing together is an example. Their names were Dick and Glen and my girlfriend at the time (now wife) and I would see them most mornings on the little bluff between Terramar and warm water jetty, hanging out by their trucks, drinking their morning coffee and watching the surf. It was cool to build up a friendship with them that permitted me to take their picture. I’m glad I did – Dick ended up dying of a heart ailment about a year later. I found this out when I mailed him a print and it got forwarded to his sister in the Midwest, who I’d never met. She wrote me a nice note telling me the unfortunate news but thanking me for the photo. Her name was Bernice, I still remember that all these years later.
If there was an ideal art community, how would Carlsbad to it?
An ideal art community would have a group of people working in various branches of art making who would stimulate each other and help sharpen each others’ skills. In a perfect world they would all be able to support themselves by what they made and they’d all get along and everyone would have enough space. The reality in Carlsbad is quite different than that, obviously, but what CarlsbadCrawl is doing will hopefully make it a better environment for people who create. Finding other artists to network with and collaborate on shows and projects will be a good thing.
An artist’s job is to tell a story, What is yours?
I am now a family man living in the burbs; I’m perfectly happy and feel fortunate each day to have the life I am living. I continue to take a lot of pictures and do black and white darkroom work as often as I can because I love it. I think if people are going to make art in whatever form, they should do it in order to please themselves first. If others like it enough that they’ll spend their money to buy an occasional piece, that’s very flattering.
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