A Shift in Perspective

A Shift in Perspective

Sometimes, A day or two is all it takes

The Saint Francis de Paula Church in Tularosa, New Mexico

Last week, I mentioned Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a magical place in my essay. I didn't realize how my two days in Santa Fe would affect my approach to photography and art. It's subtle, but I have a new perspective, a ground shift, if you will, and it has changed me.

On the recommendation of a friend, I made it a point to spend a couple of days in Santa Fe last week. I stayed at a boutique hotel near downtown, where all the galleries and restaurants are located, so I would have an easy walk to explore the city. I spent my first day exploring the photography galleries and was shocked by how important photography is in the Santa Fe art scene.

The are several photo galleries in the downtown arts district which are all worth seeing. One gallery is a few blocks removed from the center of the action but is worthy of mention, Obscura Gallery. Here I found remarkable work by photographers spanning the last century or more. Plus, the gallery manager was thoughtful and engaging with loads of information on processes and techniques used by the photographers on display. It was an afternoon well spent browsing photos and discussing approaches to the finished works. A must-see gallery, in my opinion.

Georgia O'Keeffe is an artist whose name is inexorably linked to Santa Fe. Even though she worked in pastels and paint, my visit to her museum significantly impacted me in several ways. Most important is that art takes time - a lot of time, and repetition - a lot of repetition. O'Keeffe shows how patience and practice pay off in creating great art.

A more immediate impact from my experience in all the galleries is how I now see my own photographic work. In the past, I would make dozens of exposures of a subject, select several images to work on and produce one final image that I considered the best of the bunch. While sorting out the photos from my time in New Mexico, I began to see different possibilities from the images of the same subject.

I feel that presenting similar pictures of a single subject dilutes the impact of the art. I still believe that is true. However, offering a single subject in unique and dissimilar ways gives the viewer and myself new ways of interpreting a particular scene or topic. The photos I have to share with you this week are all very different and of the same building, a church. I am proud of this work and am delighted to show it here.

The photo at the top would most likely have been my first choice, with the dramatic storm clouds overhead balanced by the stonework in the forefront. Which are all anchored by the Mission in the center of the photo.

Just below is a vintage take on the Mission building with a soft focus and a sepia tone. Notice the entire photo has an even soft focus which was intentionally done during post-processing. The storm clouds had moved out, leaving part of the sky clear. The color has been removed, and a sepia tone was added at the end of the processing to give it more of a vintage feel.

Finally, nothing but the doorway, a cross, a couple of lights, and a lot of open space. There really isn't anywhere for the eye to go except to the doors. The idea was to simplify the Mission facade and make it more approachable for the viewer. The simplicity of this photo leaves more room for interpretation. Not just an interpretation of the image itself but thoughts about the actual building and what is beyond those doors.

Saint Francis de Paula in full view

A simple photo of the facade of Saint Francis de Paula

Thank you for being here, otherwise I couldn't do what I do!