Fine Art Photography: Four Websites That Are My Gift To You
One of the nicest gifts that anyone can give during this year’s holiday is a photograph. It can be a portrait of yourself and your loved ones or it can be the gift of a fine art print that you can proudly hang on the wall. Submitted for your approval this month are four photographers whose fine art work spans different genres, but what they have in common is an uncommon vision and a commitment to quality.
Marc Garrison’s site uses the liveBooks (www.livebooks.com) platform but it’s designed to avoid the cookie-cutter look that plagues similar template-bound sites. That’s a good thing because Garrison’s work doesn’t look like anyone else’s either. He calls it Convergent Media and combines photographs, scanned items, and textures to produce something unlike its source material. He’s gathered images into seven different portfolios and while they are stylistically dissimilar, each focuses on a different aspect of nature, but it’s nature photography as you’ve never seen it before.
In Panoramas, for example, he merges three vertical images to create a digital CinemaScope of flowers and gardens that are real and not so real at the same time. All are stunning blends of color and design that literally become its own genre. Compared to the color splashes of Panoramas, Black And White contains stark monochrome (with some infrared) images followed by more literal images with that dash of Garrison style, setting them apart from the ordinary. His Digital Tripych (sic) photographs use a traditional format combining similar or the same image to create fine art—there’s no other word for it. These meticulously crafted triptychs blend color and texture to create images that could hang just as well in a home or a museum. What ultimately makes all these photographs work is the simplicity of the concept and the beauty and perfection of Marc Garrison’s execution.
If you’ve ever considered shooting a pinhole camera, I hope Nancy Breslin’s website inspires you to give it a try. She’s a Delaware-based photographer who makes black-and-white images of amusement parks with pinhole and plastic cameras. As an old-school fine art photographer, she also works with alternative photographic processes such as gum bichromate printing. Breslin’s no-frills site contains five galleries of still photographs and one containing video. My personal favorite of her galleries is Pinhole Meals, which is a “Pinhole Diary of Eating Out,” blending street photography and fine art aesthetics to create a series of—it’s up to 1500—images that are mesmerizing to see. The long exposures caused by the tiny pinhole apertures produce blur while other parts of the image are in sharp, deep focus. She even provides a wonderfully informative “Pinhole Exposure Information” page for the technically inclined.
The images in her Amusement Parks and Rides gallery, also made with a pinhole camera, are filled with a nostalgic melancholia alternating with tour de force nighttime images such as “Indoor Carousel, Seattle.” Fine art photographs don’t have to be flat pieces of paper hung on a wall and reverently worshiped, as can be seen by the three-dimensional objects found in her Alternative Processes gallery. Nancy Breslin’s photography shows that you don’t need a high-tech digital camera to make interesting, thought-provoking images.
Wisconsin-based Tony Casper’s lush website is a showcase for this photographer’s work that deftly blends the best aspects of fine art and travel photography. His six galleries are location based and contain the kind of finely crafted, exquisitely executed imagery that are the hallmark of Casper’s work. His Italy portfolio, for instance, is full of intense color and passion that seems to fuel all of his images, including photographs such as Bellagio. Clicking an image opens a page that features a larger version along with information about where the photograph was made. This text is important because one of Casper’s goals is “to bring that beauty to the people who cannot see it” (in person).
While full of powerful color, his images are not loud. Instead of screaming “look at me,” they exude the quietness of a whisper and make you feel as if you could walk through that stone arch in Bellagio. In France, his Annecy Reflection shows a peaceful image you could swear was made in Venice, but is clearly not. The few images of Ireland contrast the vibrancy of village life with the solitude—there are few people in Casper’s images—of the green countryside. His Wine Country portfolio focuses on Napa and Alexander valleys, as well as France and Italy, and without checking the captions it’s hard to tell which is which. But one thing you do know is that Tony Casper’s control of lighting and color combine to produce fine art images that would be a delight to hang on your wall.
The Blog-of-the-Month is From the Field by fine art photographer J. G. Coleman. He specializes in photographing the wilds of the American Northeast with an emphasis on the landscapes of Connecticut, where Coleman was born and raised. It’s a WordPress blog using a theme from WPExplorer (www.wpexplorer.com) and is chock full of his superb nature photography as well as information that provides a sense of place. The blog displays a number of posts in thumbnail form that when clicked take you to another page where you can read the full post and see a larger image.
It takes more than a great-looking layout to make a great blog and Coleman leverages its attractive and functional layout to produce posts with illuminating text—don’t miss his “Portraits from Connecticut’s Wildlands”—and quietly beautiful nature photographs. Unlike some blogs, he encourages reader comments and provides a response mechanism at the bottom of each post.
There is a tranquility to Coleman’s work that asks you to take time and explore the photograph’s content. In “Tidepool at Massacre Island” he whisks you away to a small barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Alabama, with the post providing information about the location while a single photograph (click it to see a larger version) takes you there in spirit, so much so that you can almost feel the sand between your toes. Want to see more? Go to his website at: www.jgcoleman.com.