Although I have never
aspired to have my photographs included in an exhibition, I would first
like to thank Andrea for this opportunity.
For the past eight years
I have worked in the photography industry; however, my love for this
medium began with my father. The many great images of his journeys that he
has shared with our family helped me discover how important photography is
in my life. For me, it is a way to remember the great times, whether itís
mushroom hunting, fishing, or traveling around the world with the people I
There is nothing better
than coming across a photograph you took on a great adventure, reminiscing
about that moment in your life and then being able to share that moment
With that said, enjoy
These prints were made in a method I learned while studying with the
incomparable Joyce Wilson at the Brooks institute of Photography. She
really trained her students to look beyond the traditional, commercial
genre that is the Brooks curriculum and to try new and different
techniques to express themselves artistically.
Lith printing seems at first to be very similar to traditional black and
white printing; a normal negative is used, paper is exposed and
developed. The fun starts when we realize that the usual rules of density
and contrast control don't apply with this system. To create these
prints, I used kodalith paper developer and a regular fine-art printing
paper. The print development times ranged from five to 15 minutes, and
the exposure times ranged from five to 30 seconds. All of the negatives
had relatively similar exposure and development. The resulting prints are
far more contrasty than traditional prints of these shots, and have a
texture and color tonality that is unique to lith printing.
Polaroid Transfers always look like tiny paintings to me. Delicate and
flawed, each one is unique and cannot be precisely reproduced. This
series is inspired by my love of the natural elements of city living; all
but one were taken right here in Berkeley, either in my own backyard or up
the street, some even in Tilden Park. The intimacy of macro photography
is well suited to the polaroid transfer with its tiny size and softened
Over the course of 10
years or so I've been photographing a wide range of subjects fromlandscapes and architecture to documentary and portraiture. I really find
that my true interests and fascination lies in photographing people.
Sometimes I create an informal setting using a piece of black velvet as my
backdrop and one key light to produce a simple classic portrait. Other
times, I use the subject's own surroundings to create an environmental
In this series of Photographs I wanted to create a somewhat timeless style
of pictures thatresembled a turn of the century look with some inspiration from circus
acts to boudoir. I also
shoot plenty of color film, but I find that black and white
photography helps me to achieve a certain look that color cannot.
I've used a variety of cameras for this series ranging from 35 mm, and
medium format, to an outdated Polaroid range finder. Some of my influences
are Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Larry Clarke, David Lynch,
Joel Peter Witkin, Bunny Yeager, Mary Ellen Mark and Wee Gee to name a
achieve the colors and overall atmosphere in these images, I use slow
speed slide film at night (usually ASA100) without flash, which
necessitates exposures ranging anywhere from
2 seconds to about 4 minutes. When color film is subjected to such long
exposures, the different color emulsion layers absorb light at different
speeds, often creating saturated colors that we don't normally see. This
phenomenon is known as 'reciprocity failure'
aside, however, these images are a record of some of the more subtle and
often surreal ways in which we as humans build and shape our
environments. I enjoy pondering the shapes of various structures and
machines that don't normally receive attention from passers-by. Most
everything in my images is in some way changed from its so-called natural
state, from the dirt piled high by bulldozers, right up to the clouds in
the night sky that reflect the bright lights of the city.
About the pieces
This piece is about freedom. The young man is dragging his problems behind
him, so it slows down his freedom.
A view into the beauty of art & music. The people are looking into their
own creative minds.
Me and Bird
This is the bird that tells me things. He is my intuition. When I listen,
everything goes well.
This is a photo of a manikin--though it looks real. This is the way many
people are in life. They are confused about who they are so they live
The photographs I have chosen to put
together are records of scenes I have attempted to document. I am
interested in the process of observing and photographing simultaneously. I
am always pushing so that when I shoot I am as much as possible concerning
myself with the job of observing a scene as it is, rather than changing it
due to technical limitations. The more I understand my equipment and the
more technical skills I develop the more natural I feel when I am in the
moment of shooting.
My pursuit of images has allowed me
experiences I think I would not have had if I was not a photographer. I am
attracted to scenes which I notice are one time events, and which I feel
are passing moments that I am positioned in some way to pause. I like
scenes which are mistakes or unplanned as well as events which seem to me
to be symbolic of synchronicity.
I would like to thank Andrea
McLaughlin for allowing us to put this show up and to all those who ever
taught, encouraged or inspired me.
While the staff at Photolab planned
this show, made their print selections, cut their matts, shopped for
frames and decided on a name for the exhibit, I was not around at all.
January and February of this year I spent increasing time with my mother
as she became
more and more ill. Finally on March 21, she died in San Francisco. My
sister Marie, and
I were with her to the end. By early April I was back at work,
struggling with a back log of work and wondering what I could contribute
to the exhibit
Part of my inheritance from my
parents, who were both photographers who met each other
in 1948 at the Rochester Institute of Technology, was a handful of their
framed prints. And so, this is what I have chosen to show you: photographs
made together by my parents.
Here is how my parents worked to
make a photograph: my mother was the location scout, my father would then
man the camera and take the photo, one or the other of them would process
the film and my mother would usually make the final print.
In an age when "bigger means better" the value and importance of small
communities are often overlooked. The OSCP seeks to honor small spiritual
communities in this city we love, to draw attention and to raise awareness
of their ubiquity and invaluable contributions to the larger community.
Storefront churches, in particular, are "on the front lines, and serve as
poigniant icons of urban spirituality. There is, in the juxtaposition of
urban life and the longing for transcendence, a serenity and refuge to be
found in the confines of these churches, often not so exquisite
on their exterior.
The Project, seeks to preserve a bit of Oakland's history, and document an
important aspect of our common life, and will continue over a period of
the next two years.
Rev. John Mabry Ph.D.
Photography: Mark Weaner (not Ph.D.)