SSL Certificate

Roger Vail
June 2014
Photography One

Course Description
Photography One
One objective. One approach. One workshop. One = you.
What it isn't: no "narratives" except visual ones, no jargon, no requirements, no competition, no ranking, no grading, no hierarchies, no mistakes possible, just the making of and looking at photographs. You and I are and will be colleagues with a passion for the art of photography, for photographs that are "a record of emotion" as the great architectural photographer Frederick Evans put it, rather than simple visual documents.
Any kind of photographic image is welcome from pinhole to 8x10" view camera to phone camera snapshots to silver prints to digital imagery, on screen or in print form, to alternative processes.
You and I will shoot and process images and have informal critiques every day. I will give some slide talks on aesthetic and technical issues. We'll get to know each other well ahead of the workshop via e-mail so that we can decide together what issues should be covered during our time together.

Artist's Biography
Born and educated in Chicago, Roger Vail credits the city itself and the Art Institute of Chicago, where he earned his BFA and MFA degrees, with forming his aesthetic sensibility. There he worked with the Art Institute’s then-photo curator, Hugh Evans. Evans became Roger’s mentor and placed the young photographer’s works in the museum’s collection, paving the way for acquisitions by others, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum. His best known work is of carnival rides at night, and in 2006, Life magazine splashed one his carnival pictures on its cover, accompanied by a seven-image spread inside. Bill Shapiro, the magazine’s former managing editor, called the pictures “quintessential American iconography. They’re a thrill ride in every sense of the word. They capture the way you remember those hot August nights at the state fair.” Since that time Roger has focused on photographing neon lights, and currently, he says, “I’m trying to do to humans what I did to carnival rides.” To underscore that point, Vail reads a quote from sculptor Mark de Survero: “The heart of art is the search for form that is electrifying, that gives life to our vision.” Roger now lives in Watsonville, California.

Artist's Statement
Roger Vail has trained the lens of his 8 x 10 view camera on seemingly ordinary subjects to produce images that range from poetically minimal to flat-out hallucinatory.
His best-known pictures, of carnival rides at night— are blazing wheels of color that look like an artist’s palette run through a spin cycle. “I didn’t know what was going to happen; I just shot it,” Vail says about the earliest of those images, a B&W from 1970. “When I saw the film I just flipped.” That “accident” formed the basis of an oeuvre that would encompass night skies, oil refineries, bridges, marble quarries and rivers.
Vail’s exposures, which range from several minutes to hours, reveal not only the otherworldly aspects of his subjects, but a variety of spooky artifacts – none of which the artist conceives beforehand. “It’s the forms, colors and textures that catch my eye when I’m working,” says Vail. “Content comes later.”

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