For aamora’s nineteenth interview we’ve asked Harry Snowden to give us his views on photography.
I have a need to record the beauty that is life. I prefer photography because it gets down to real basics where chasing the light is concerned.
I play with my son’s cellphone, truly an amazing piece of technology. I love making videos with it. I can’t get excited about the camera…maybe someday. Maybe.
Digital v. Film – still a topic?
Not a topic. I love all my toys equally!! But I do have some thoughts/observations.After 44 years of being a film photographer, my first digital camera radically changed my photographic style, gave me something new to explore. I found the digital camera fits our urban environment beautifully. Bonus.
I’m having a hard time warming up to the look of digital black and white, it seems all blocked up and glassy. My friends who are into physics say its about gamma, I suggest that it might be about not recognizing a good BW image. Shooting some film would fix that.I noticed the “film guy” in me doesn’t like to shoot in RAW.
Is the equipment important?
No. In the end, the image is what is important. Here is the thought experiment: Take Edward Weston and Ansel Adams to Yosemite Valley. Give one a view camera and the other a cheap drug store disposable. Compare the images at the end of the day. See?
How did you learn to photograph?
I started out in 1965 with hand-me-down cameras from my parents.The first was a Kodak Brownie Super 27.This was followed by a contact printing darkroom under the stairs in the basement. A few years later, the gentlemen at the local camera store sold me my first SLR and became my contact for a steady stream of free, outdated film. Freelance work slowly sucked me in, but it was never a steady stream of money; it was feast or famine, therefore requiring a flexible day job. The business side of freelancing could also get really ugly. I eventually learned to ask the client key questions that saved me a lot of time and grief. Over the years,the market seemed to select me as a photographer of events.There were great assignments like bicycle races in the mountains or big jazz festivals, but in reality the constant money was in photographing broken faces and faded intersections for lawyers.
Four years of art school brainwashed me into becoming a fine artist and that was going to be my new product. While studying,I assisted the head of the art department in the development of a Summer visiting artist workshop series. Over time, through these workshops, I met many key people who gave me a hand up and help me see. The workshops still go on 33 years later.
As you can imagine I have quite a large library of images. Now I sell images for books and album covers, murals in office buildings and work with designers on corporate logos. I still consider offers on freelance work, but take very few. I have two book projects I’m working on.
Are photographs “taken” or “made”?
Photographers produce images of the things they love. So they are made.
Is photography art?
Must be. The advent of photography really bothered J.M.W.Turner. That guy could really chase the light.
Where do you go to look at photographs?
When I travel to cities I go to the galleries. At home, its the internet and my library.
Who is it for – you or them?
It’s for me. It’s not really a selfish thing; it’s about getting the job of art done.
Harry has a BFA 1988 – Sierra Nevada College Lake Tahoe and see more of his work here.