This afternoon Kathy & I visited The Light Factory in Charlotte to view their current exhibition entitled Group f64 and the Modernist Vision, which includes original prints from Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston and Ansel Adams. I’ve seen some of these prints before, but never tire of seeing them again and again. One of the things that The Light Factory is doing with this exhibit is offering personalized tours of the exhibit with Chief Curator Dennis Kiel. I organized a group tour with Dennis and offered it up to our nature photography group, figuring that an opportunity to learn something about the history of photography – particularly of this era of photography that has been so influential – with someone so knowledgeable as Dennis Kiel would be an opportunity no one would want to miss. Suffice it to say that I grossly overestimated the level of interest. After some cajoling and persuasion I did manage to attract 9 people, including myself, and I think those who attended are nearly as serious about their photography as I am and enjoyed the tour very much.
I’m continually amazed that for all people like to talk about their photography, and how serious people say they are about photography, that there is a general lack of interest in seeing work that is so important to the history of photography. This may sound silly to some, but just standing in front of some of this work brought tears to my eyes, it is so beautiful. No matter how many reproductions you have seen and how good they might have been, there is no substitute to seeing work of the masters in person. And to have the tour narrated by an expert in the field really appealed to me. Most of the others in our group seemed to think so as well, although after an hour and a half most people had reached the limits of their ADD. I could have stayed another couple of hours!
As I have written here previously I am currently on a personal mission to learn more and more about the history of photography, and am simultaneously trying to develop my printing skills. I have a long way to go on both, but seeing work like this is so inspirational and motivating that I want to do more and more. I’ll never be an Edward Weston or Ansel Adams, but learning what really good prints look like and experiencing them firsthand gives me a much stronger foundation upon which to base my own work. All of a sudden I see things in my own prints that I want to go back and re-do. It certainly gives me something more to work with on future work. I can’t get enough of this stuff!