Behind Glass refers both to the glass or boundaries of an enclosure and to the
glass of the camera lens. Often I find myself gazing into the eyes of a monkey,
his hand touching the glass wall that separates our worlds. The animal’s candid
stare, the reflection of glass, and the frame of a window are all elements that speak
to issues of nature and captivity. My photographs are about the beauty of animals but, more importantly, about their plight. The pictorial quality of these images
softens the shock, but the punch is there in the eyes and melancholy expressions of
the animals. Primates especially are able to remind people of the undeniable
connection between man and animal, and this feeling evokes a memory of a time
when man was part of nature. Sometimes I feel like Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott,
watching a separate world through a glass lens, creating but not participating. I, too,
am “half sick of shadows;” I feel a responsibility to take part, to contribute. These photographs should be a voice for the animals. I assist animal non-profits in three ways: by making photo books for them to use as they wish, by licensing images at no cost, and by producing awareness raising gallery exhibits and blog essays.
Wassily Kandinsky teaches that the artist has the ability to “realize the inner sound of things.” I listen for this sound when I photograph animals. People have lost an essential connection to the land and to animals. I photograph animals to remind the viewer of this bond. My animals ask the viewer to consider their place in the world, to do as Franz Marc instructs, to “contemplate the soul of the animal to divine its way of sight.”
I capture the image digitally, but my habits are from shooting film: I do not look at the display screen, and I focus manually. I convert the image to black and white and manipulate it as I would in the darkroom. The black and white medium is central to my vision. It helps me select only what is essential. The pictorial quality and the element of nostalgia come from my lens and aperture choices. I find vintage lenses and have them adapted to fit my camera. I print on on silver gelatin paper.
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