(Cropped portion of people and bird from- Niagara, 2006)
The discussion as to what makes a Fine Art photograph is one for the ages. I have long respected the genre and have worked diligently to hone my craft. Although there are various definitions of what makes a photograph fine art, I subscribe to a more tradional theory that such an image is created with an aesthetic intention, that the value lies primarily in its beauty, rather than for journalistic, editorial or commercial purposes. I also believe that the image should tell a story, be unique, iconic, powerful…or all of the above. As beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so goes a fine art photograph which usually entails vetting by those respected in the field. Knowing this, I fearlessly spent my early years placing my work in front of some of the most well respected photographers, gallerists, curators and collectors in the business. With the help of their support, the work was widely published in fine art magazines, exhibited in galleries across the U.S. and over time, a significant resume was built.
I believe that one of my signature images, Niagara, clearly exemplifies these equalities (shot from atop a hotel two miles away to capture this angle)… It has countinously been singled out by many of those alluded to above, in that the composition juxtaposing the grandeur of the falls with the minutia of the toursists indicates just how small we humans are in comparison to the forces of Mother Nature.
After getting past the composition (and then lighting, both of which cannot be adequately discussed in a blog post, if at all), I personally take significant pride in capturing the exacting details of a scene, whether it be the people in this image or the fine feathers in one of my close-up animal portraits.
Then, finally, and consistent with the teachings of the great Ansel Adams himself, capturing the image is only one half of the process. The printing (again, not something that can be covered here), is crucial to the creation of a fine art photographic print. Being true to the process, I hand print each of my images (up to 17″ x 22″) on a professional Epson 3800 printer using Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl paper and I personally oversee the larger prints to make sure they are color correct (again, another significant concern for another day) and that they print without a single unexpected blemish.
Finally, I pride myself on the key details of my images being “tack” sharp, as exemplified by the enlarged cropped portion of the image above. Although some of the older images can go only so far, as a perfectionist, I have gone through an entire roll of paper (athough thankfully not often) in order to ultimately create a single large print for a collector, and to my exacting standards. When a gallerist who regularly sells the work of masters such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston calls my prints “magic,” I know that I am doing something right.
Hence, there are many sources by which one can obtain a Fine Art print. I simply offer one that is created in my mind’s eye…and always from my heart. It is universally accepted that the first rule of collecting fine art photographyy is to actually enjoy the work. Hence, I strive to create images that make the viewer not only think…but feel, and I have been honored to have satisfied a wide array of selective collectors, and look forward to doing so for many others in the future.
Cab Ride in the Rain, Radio City Music Hall, NYC 2009
Tonight Belongs to Phantom, NYC 2008
Don’t Let the Lights Go Out on Broadway, NYC 2012
As a photographer, even one whose first love is nature, I never could walk around the streets of Manhattan at night without a camera. The constant motion of the yellow cabs, the continuously changing mega screens in Times Square and even the lit billboards, create a canvas of possibiities to make a great image come to life. Cab Ride, shot from the back seat of a Yellow Cab as the CNN cast scrolled by, took several drives around the corner to get just what I was looking for.
Phantom was much easier to shoot as long as I avoided being run over by any one of the various forms of NYC’s transportation vehicles such as taxis, limos, or tricked out bicycle chariot/rickshaws.
Finally, being able to spread out tripod legs and use a long lens allowed me to capture an electrician repairing a single light amongst millions in the heart of Times Square. Timing the capture was critical to its composition because the images on the screens changed every few seconds. Clearly, this man’s job was to make sure… the lights don’t go out on Broadway (nod to Billy Joel).
30 Rock, Touch the Sky, NYC, NY 2009
Atlas in Snow, Rockefeller Center, NYC 2009
Essex House, NYC, NY 2012
Although my first love is creating images of nature, even in the City, I can’t put my camera down. Notwithstanding, I tend to bring some nature into my Cityscapes, to contrast the natural elements with the man made subjects
Cases in point, the first two New York City images were created during some beautiful weather (fog, then snow) while the third was shot through Central Park trees after closing hours of one of my exhibitions in NYC.
Hence, whether I’m movin on out, or movin on up, there is always something to shoot when you keep your eyes open …and don’t put your camera away, no matter how bad the weather gets (just make sure it’s covered if required.)..That’s for another story
Dark Descent, Niagara Falls, 2006
Milton Falls, OH 2013
Wild River, Rocky Mountains, CO 2010
As many of you who follow my blog know, my posts are generated from various forms of inspiration. Recently, I connected online with an individual who sells Fine Art Photography created by some of the true legends of the genre. Jeff Appel, who was kind enough to take the time to look at my work, has a web site at http://www.photographypastandpresent.com/ and FB page at https://www.facebook.com/jeffemilyappel. He has a working relationship with many of the masters of the art form, individuals whom I have long admired. From John Sexton, Roger Ballen, Roman Loranc to Cole Thompson and Camille Seaman. Jeff has impeccable photographic taste and seems to be the go-to guy for prints from many of the classic Fine Art Photographers. Several of his recent postings of classic black and white images, feature water scenes, often exhibiting motion.
Some of these classic images have moved me to re-post some of my own visions of the beauty of water. These are some of my favorite to create, the juxtiposition of the soft white moving water, often against hard dark rocks represent a time honored tradition of Fine Art Photography, one that I don’t take lightly.
Created by using a tripod, in muted light, the timing of the shutter release is critical to avoid blowing out the whites of the water, a talent that is honed over time and something I pride myself on capturing.
So, if you haven’t found what you ar looking for within the portfolios at http://www.barrystevengreff.com, check out Jeff’s site to view work from some of the legends as well as other great artists he works with, the images are truly ….moving.
A Moment to Remember, South Pointe, Miami Beach 2011
Over my lifetime, I would match those romantic moments I have created with anyone.
On these two occasions, I cannot take credit for anything other than being in the right place at the right time and capturing such moments photographically.
In the image above, I was shooting the waves crashing against the South Pointe jetty as the sun set. There are always people on the rocks fishing, taking pictures or just contemplating. On this particular evening, a young couple was standing there as a huge cruise ship passed them heading out to sea. The epic nature of the moment was not lost on them, and they turned it into a romantic moment to remember. A tripod allowed me to capture the slight movement of lights on the seaward ship while keeping there motionless embrace in focus.
Front Row Seats, Torrey Pines, CA 2008
On the opposite coast, this couple planned ahead and took the time and effort to climb up the seaside cliff to await the sunset. Meanwhile, I had been walking up a trail on the mountain behind them towards the ocean view, unaware of how far it was to the top. As I have often done in the past, racing against the setting sun, I reached the top just in time and this is what I saw in front of me. Moving to the best vantage point for this composition, it was clear to me that this couple had the best seats in the house and had created there own …moment to remember.