Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The legendary black-and-white imagery of Richard Garrod navigates a fine line between art and nature
While Garrod does use Photoshop for some of his color work, he works extensively in the darkroom to perfect his black-and-white images. He has a deep love for film, especially large format. He shoots both 4x5 and 5x7, employing his “outstanding” Canham view camera with two different backs for the two formats.
“There are times when this equipment is very appropriate to the subject and location and produces elegant images from very sharp negatives,” Garrod says. “There are also times when it’s very appropriate to use a medium format, such as my Rollei SL66 with a tilting lens for focus correction. Both the large-format and medium-format cameras allow the use of these methods for correcting focus of the subject beyond what you can do with a simple fixed-lens camera. A zoom lens or a variety of fixed lenses can also be major determinants of the final image quality and perspective. A basic, but essential group of tools for image making is necessary, but we must study the science and effects behind their purpose and practical use if we are to maximize their value to us.”
“Originally, the early pictorial photographs were strongly related to the romantic feelings of the time where the subject was soft and ethereal to convey those kinds of feelings,” Garrod explains. “The transition from those soft images moved us toward sharper and less romantic photography. Today, photographers seek out far more powerful images that convey strength and dynamic movement. It’s still evolving towards a different kind of personal expression, more open and unrestricted in terms of subject matter, composition, methods of seeing and even political expression.”
Garrod’s landscapes work so well as abstract material because they’re so grounded in the real world. He employs straightforward, realistic representations of his visual subjects, manipulated through the use of technological tools and darkroom manipulation to present a world that’s real, yet affected deeply by the subtle nuances of his eye and, hence, his philosophy. When asked if he, as a teacher and mentor to so many other photographers, had anything that he’d like to say to future generations, Garrod concluded with this.
“Be true to yourself and your inner voice,” he muses. “Go with your photographic work where your background and personality lead you. Don’t take current trends automatically as your direction; however, continually study the evolution of photographic work and the history of the medium, as well as current work in order to start finding your unique place in this exciting field. Open up and avail yourself of the panoply of facets of photographic work from the range of necessary technical aspects to the many avenues of exploring creativity. This is an exciting field, so study it, explore it, and practice it.”
To see more of Richard Garrod’s work, visit www.richardgarrodphoto.com.
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