Steven H Brown Photography
Abstract Fine Art
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Steven H Brown PhotographyArtist Statement
When I decide to create, which is more often than not a conscious decision, I do so out of a need or desire to produce something. It is not always about what I see around me, at least not to begin with. My decision to walk out the door and explore with my camera has more to do with my mood and how I am feeling physically than anything else.
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I make a commitment to produce and then I throw myself into the world. Please understand, I do have my favorite places to photograph and occasionally I will stop on the side of the road when I see something but most of the work that I do that is successful comes from me deciding to be creative and going out the door to some place specific. I never see the photograph when I first arrive at a location. I have a feeling but no vision. After I have taken a few photographs and interact with the space, the vision crystallizes.
This is were the magic happens. This is that dreamy space in life that is half remembered when looking at the computer monitor. I barely remember what the place looked like and my images don’t give a clue into reality. This, for me, is creation.
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Steven H Brown Photography continues
I photograph to improve reality.
I do not feel that I am documenting anything. I like to think of my work as using the outside world to express my inner thoughts and feelings, trying to use the photographic process to achieve what the abstract expressionists did without destroying the reality where the image began. I am isolating forms, shapes and light in a world of chaos in order to impose order through a kind of abstraction that acknowledges the reality from whence it came.
Grace of the Line
Every image I produce is a form of abstraction for me, even though they may not fit the traditional definition of the word.
I am drawn to forms and shapes, lines and shadows. The abstractions to be found in the world. I guess you cold say I am interested in form more than content. I admire the work of many photographers, but my influences come from other art forms also.
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Steven H Brown Biography
I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri. My father once told me to find another career, as there was no money in farming. Of course I chose art, which also has the potential for poverty. I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri. I started as a journalism major but quickly discovered that my style of photography did not fit the newspaper ideal. I spent many years discovering for myself what my mind wanted to see come out of my camera.
When I started my life as a photographer digital imaging wasn’t even an idea yet. I spent many hours perfecting the craft of black & white printing in a small room under an orange light. I owned the most technologically advanced darkroom equipment at the time. I printed large in my little darkroom, and toned & washed the prints for archival permanence. I believe that the work that I did during this time was beautiful and interesting.
While I enjoyed the process of the wet darkroom, there were things about it I disliked. The chemicals, for instance, were hard to deal with and I always felt a little guilty pouring D-76 down the drain. It was also a little lonely spending hours in a very dark room in my basement. I did enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from prints that show quality as well as artistry.
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The camera I was using at the time was a 4×5 field camera made in the USA by the Wisner company. This camera was slow to use, which was good in that it forced me to really look carefully at what I was photographing, helping me to develop my eye. I also used 35mm and medium format cameras at the time but the large camera was always the one I took out when I wanted to really think while I was working.
I am currently working with a digital camera. I have found that, for me, there are many advantages to working digitally over the old wet darkroom process. I love the ability to finely tune an image in the editing process. In my darkroom days I could make large sweeping changes to tonal values as well as some smaller changes, but with digital editing I can make very small adjustments to tonal values giving me much greater control over my images. I also do a large amount of “digital gardening”, where I am removing distractions in the image to give the subject more focus. I was able to do similar work in the darkroom through spotting but digital allows me to go even further with my alteration of images.
There were many years in between the work I did in my wet darkroom and my beginnings in digital photography. Since I have started using digital processes I have been able to develop my eye more fully than I ever did in my film days. I believe this to be a common story. Digital allows the artist to see their work as they are doing it, there is no waiting period.
I have always seen new technologies as just another tool to expand my repertoire. I created an entire portfolio of Polaroid SX-70 manipulations while I was studying photography at art school. I embrace all processes, new and old, as tools to be used to produce images.
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