The Outer Bridge
The Outer Bridge is a namesake I chose for my DBA over 35 years ago, based on one of my early heroes in photography, Paul Outerbridge. An early pioneer in full color, he used the expensive and very time-consuming trichrome carbo assembly process to produce his full-color prints. His photographs are inspiring to me because he accomplishes an original, singular aesthetic that - like Hollywood "invisible" film editing - blends seamlessly with an extraordinary, yet archival, color craft.
I often hear movie pundits that delve into film dynamics that a close-up is “classic” - it always works. I take “works” to mean that it always has a uniquely strong impact on an audience. Fairly, there are “different” close-ups and they don’t always “work”. But, similar to film dynamics, I prefer to make images that are self-contained, self-evident, clear, and direct, and with a craft technique that also “works”. Perhaps, then, that means “classic”.
Yet, on the street, faces reveal more than any method actor’s performance could replicate; as they discover my camera, it is a silent exchange of subliminal dialogue. The moment they are captured in my camera, it is as if they are listening; that listening is a unique and thrilling moment in my work. All images taken from life can be thought of as “outtakes”. But unlike movies, they cannot be rehearsed or constructed or re-shot; once they belong to history, they can’t be reconstructed.
By profession, I am a motion picture editor, but I have been photographing for myself for over 50 years, and self-published for 10. I have never had to make a living with photography, so I’m very fortunate to have the freedom to do my work completely on my own terms. To an extent, my photographic experience has been similar to Harry Callahan - a photographer who is known for having done “everything”. I'm immersively self-taught: Wet darkroom work, color reversal & negative, black-and-white. Dye transfer, Cibachrome, R- and C-print, amidol with Agfa Portriga Rapid. Large format, medium format, 35mm. Digital capture - scanner, camera, Photoshop, Lightroom, all the HDR tools. The new hybrid: DSLR film scanning.
As a result of all that immersion, over the years I’ve developed a strong compulsion to pass on what I’ve been able to take from my work: Knowledge - to make a print as permanent as possible. Oh, there are a lots of websites and products that address prints that can last three to five hundred years. Then I thought of the pyramids; I began to think that three to five hundred years is just not archival enough. I’m thinking at least a thousand years, even more. My most recent project, PERMANENCE, is devoted to that. I’ve made some very unexpected discoveries while restoring Prokudin-Gorsky’s color separations, to the extent that wet and digital darkroom work are no longer discrete phases of photographic history. The workflows I’ve developed are melded into one solid block of photographic PastPresentFuture. This may not make a whole lot of sense right now, so please check the PERMANENCE section regularly; the Knowledge page in particular. It will constantly be updated over the next year with explanations, videos, and the many new discoveries I am making.