In many ways, photography mirrors painting and other fine art. Photography developed as a means of rapidly capturing visually accurate representations of some scene or subject (often human portraiture). From early on in its technological history, practitioners of this new art form sought to bend it to follow more closely the artistic vision of the photographer, whether that was impressionist, surreal, or abstract expression. My own history as a photographer followed this path as well. Most of my early work stressed …. Images that best represented what I conceived as the ‘real’ world by mastering the photographic tools of exposure, focus, sharpness, faithful color, and tonality. A somewhat chance encounter with Nancy Rotenberg led me to take a workshop with her, ostensibly for the purpose of learning macro photography. A much more significant outcome of that week was an introduction to non-representational ways of seeing the world photographically. Since then, I have adopted a much more playful attitude toward image-making, making use of the camera in some non-traditional ways (fortunately, all my Nikons allowed multiple exposure, besides giving me great control over the other basics of photography). Every image in this gallery is the product of in-camera play – no post-processed manipulation, other than color and tonal control, has been used, and other than Gull Descending, work in Photoshop kept to the minimum. Many of the images are close-up or macro shots, some are multiple exposures, some involve camera or lens movements, but others are straight single-image, short-exposure, ‘straight’ photography. I do a lot of such play and most of these playful images will never be seen by anyone else, not so much because they are bad images as they just didn’t say what I was trying to express.
© John Ellert Photography