How I Make My Photographs
There are times when I do not take direction well.
Dr. Bose was my advisor at MIT, my mentor and my friend for 50 years. However, after twenty three years at Bose Corporation (I had arrived directly from MIT as the company's fifth employee) I had two realizations: that photography had taken over first place in my life, and that I could no longer take direction. I had had great independence at Bose Corporation but it was time to move on. I also wanted to keep Dr. Bose as a friend and so I explained what had happened to my life in photography, namely that during shooting season (primarily spring and fall) I would awake, without an alarm before the sun was up with the feeling that there was a photograph to be made and no matter how tired I was I had to find that photograph and make it. Dr. Bose's response, as I had hoped because I knew he worked with a similar compulsion, was "I understand." Several weeks later he arrived unexpedly at my gallery and so I knew I had a friend for life.
Not taking direction well meant I did not study photography. I did not want someone looking over my shoulder. I would rather make mistakes and learn from them. The one lesson I had was from a wonderful photographer and teacher named Stephen Gersh. I had met him by accident and told him what I was doing in photography. He said "call me when you are ready." I did not ask for an explanation, because I felt that I knew what he meant. A year or so later, I did call him and he came to my home. I gave him a stool, a light box and a stack of a hundred or so 4x5 transparencies. He would glance at each one and place them in one of two piles. I had been watching and said "I see what you're doing." He had clarified for me what I was trying to do in making my photographs. From that time I had a better sense of what I was looking for.
Only recently have I come to an understanding what I had been taught and that was to place texture before composition. Texture is what I loved and so when I found an ensemble of detail of a kind that arroused my emotions I would then try to make a composition. And so the majority of my images appear to be cut from tapestries with no horizon and no clear boundries and also often with only hints to guide the eye. In reviewing my archives I came upon this image. I believe it was taken on one of my two southern trips but illustrates my approach well I think.