Artist Statement Though I had become familiar with the mechanics of 35mm photography & film development after being handed a camera in high school in the mid-1980's, it was not until 1998 that I really began to see the world differently through the lens. In March of that year I relocated to southeastern North Dakota.
Even though I desperately missed St. Louis, my natural instinct to explore took over and I began to just drive...ANYWHERE. In my driving of the chalk-line highways and exploring, I began to learn that, unlike some states, North Dakota history fades and deteriorates in the open spaces. This never became more true for me than when I came across an abandoned, windowless house along a highway. I parked the car and explored it. Walking through that house, I could not stop imagining what that house, that yard, must have looked like in its prime...when the paint was fresh and the yard was green, before the North Dakota tall grass took over.
Recognizing the fact that not all history is grand and glorious, but that history in the smallest and most forgotten places is important, and maybe more so out there because it was fading unbeknownst to anyone. My traveler's instinct always kept my camera with me, so I recorded my find, less like an artist and more like an archeologist; trying to learn clues about the people who lived there. Finding this house, captured in the photograph 'Window to the Past,' drove me to look for other places forgotten and left to the harsh North Dakota elements.
A barn here, another house there. They were usually concealed by groups of trees, grown as a windbreak to the relentless North Dakota winds. One time I found a pair of wooden wagons completely concealed from the highway by the tall grass. There they were, quietly dilapidating, captured in the photo 'Wagons Rest.'
Then one day I found the largest abandoned farm I had found in the 6 years I lived there. The property contained 3 houses, barns, tractors, equipment. And far behind it was a swamp with a dozen old cars and trucks from around the 1950's, all in various degrees of parts cannibalization. Discovering this place, at first, felt more like a historical find. Somewhere along the way, it changed from historical record into artistic appreciation. I rarely repositioned anything I found, and learned to see the beauty of placement in the random arrangements by chance and weather.
Shooting black & whites has been a very important part of my photography, allowing me to focus more on perfecting my composition and exposure to tell the story in the image. Most of what I learned about photography was self-taught with years of trial-and-error, mostly recording my exposure settings in a notebook to compare with the film and prints later. My education in Design has taught me the importance of select uses of color, while my newspaper experience has taught me the great value of accurate color usage. Though I have began producing more color in the last few years, my draw to shooting and producing my black & whites will not end anytime soon.
I owe much of my perception of composition to my North Dakota days, along with my strong exploration of angles and the belief that almost anything can become a subject of appreciation, no matter how small or overlooked. Because of that, my subjects are not limited to any one element, style, or perspective. Photographs that move and captivate me draw me in so deeply that I cannot look away for fear of missing something. This becomes the goal that I set, either consciously or unconsciously, for my own work. Chemistry teaches that life is a moving target, no matter how small, mundane or forgotten. The beauty of life can be found in places we may least expect. It is that beauty I seek to capture.