I am drawn by the spectacular, moved by the dramatic. But I am most comfortable with the nuance and the presence of authenticity. Place is defined by context. I don’t want to just see and feel an image before me. I want to be in the presence of it, fully immersed in the visual landscape, and to become an inclusive part of its natural context.
Displayed at Don Dexter Gallery
Northwest Travels, April-June 2018 (Q2)
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve traveled many miles across the western states by motorcycle in the past 30+ years. There is no more immediate connection to the surrounding landscape than when exposed to it’s full fury and delight for weeks on end. I believe that this immediate physicality of the environment, the landscape, is what makes it so powerful to me. And it has become such an inescapable part of my inspiration that I now bring it to even the most quiet and intimate connections such as with a flower, a bird, or a butterfly.
Favorite thing to do in or around Eugene…
I live across the street from Skinner’s Butte Park from where a short walk to the butte gives me a nice morning/evening view across the city and the eastern rise toward the Cascades. And, of course, there’s nothing more refreshing than an early morning walk along the river or watching birds at sunrise on the Delta Ponds.
Quote that inspires your creativity…
I am constantly challenged to be mindful of what is before me by the words of Don McCullin, a highly regarded photojournalist:
“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
April-June 2018 (Q2)
Years of traveling the Northwest by motorcycle has not only created a collection of photographs and transparencies but has, today, instilled in me a powerful regard for the natural world, with its extraordinary landscapes, unexpected places, and the wonderful people who live there.
At fifteen, in the basement of a Minnesota farmhouse, Michael built his first darkroom using cardboard, tape, and a navy surplus enlarger. He was hooked by the process and awed by the discoveries. The magic of photography, its process and creative potential, had become a source of wonder.
Drawn by the mountainous frontier and rugged coast, Michael moved to Eugene in 1976, built a more functional darkroom, and dove headlong into black and white photography. The process became a passion. In the early 80s he purchased an old Harley Davidson motorcycle and the entire western United States became a visual frontier. Sage and cacti, snow-dusted mountains, an ocean both rugged and serene, all became part of the journey that, even after 30 years, is still a passion all its own. And, although it required a shift away from medium format black and white to small cameras and transparencies, there is nothing more immediate about a landscape than how it feels on your face, how it smells, its expansiveness, and its natural beauty. And to him there was nothing more inspiring than rolling through the unassuming places and people of everyday America.
Today, in retirement, Michael has fully embraced the digital experience. It was an easy move from the darkroom to Lightroom and Photoshop, and venturing into the whole new world for him of color has become possible. Working over a converted kitchen table, under daylight LEDs, he mattes and mounts his photos into homemade frames while his English Chocolate Lab, Marlee, monitors from the living room couch.