Equipped with camera, paper, and editing tools I paint what I see. Perhaps it’s a windblown bird lighting on a stony ledge, the color of the sun pouring like honey on a rose, ice floes on the river, apple blossoms splayed by moonlight, the red and gold of autumn reflected in the lake, sunbeams cutting thickets in a shady grove, or perhaps it is a city landscape coming alive--the streets and cars covered with snow, or old folks and young lovers on park benches, the lonely ones, those with hungry eyes, the one with her entire fortune in a shopping bag, billboards beckoning with false promises. In a split second you see your subject, you consider how the light splashes, the contrast, vividness, the blend and clash of color, the impact of motion . . . You snap the shutter button and the camera clicks as if to acknowledge all the mental and physical preparations of your shoot, from the work of a favorite 19th century poet to a technical manual read that morning. The image, now coded on a card in your camera, is ready for viewing and editing on computer software and for printing. You will have a million choices about color, focus texture, composition, light. You may experiment with different papers for a flat matted appearance, a glossy shine, or a metallic glimmer--testing the way each one works with your subject. And so, the photographer interprets what she sees utilizing a myriad of tools made by people and natural forces.
In my youth I was an avid black and white photographer with a darkroom where I learned to develop and print my own work. I took courses in film and photography in Amherst, Mass. and NYC and worked as a resident photographer at an arts community in Cummington, Mass. I served as an apprentice editor on Manhattan’s upper west side back when movies were made in 35 mm. I loved watching the magic of the editor matching film to sound as well as older professional filmmaker friends taking me along for shoots or including me in living room screenings with their artist/intellectual friends discussing work in progress. Of course it wasn’t all good: once I was editing a film segment and cut my finger on the splicer. The producer freaked out: “Don’t get blood on the film!” he bellowed.
So now, many years later, after completing a Ph.D. program in literature and teaching in the English departments of numerous colleges and universities around the country, I am back in one of my home towns with a camera and the latest editing software. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to devote myself to this craft (and to explore the world of digital film as well). I find the mental and physical processes of photography a healthy antidote to the noisy chatter and clatter of everyday life--bills, medical and insurance challenges, impenetrable technology, dysfunctional politics, mechanical/electronic breakdowns, etc. No one escapes the racket.
But when engaged in the process of photography, I hear myself. I turn down the volume and get reacquainted with my own thoughts--my own voice and vision. I have patience to wait for a cardinal to flit onto a branch outside my kitchen window and love it when he poses: “Turn to the left just a little,” I like to say.
As I look at my own work I find it moving in the direction of an impressionist aesthetic--the wedding of living forms with impressionist techniques that I learned about mostly through many visits to the Clark Art Institute in western Massachusetts, especially the Impressionist room with its exquisite Renoirs and Monets. I have exhibited up and down the Berkshires, from South County to North.