I did not set out to become an art photographer. Following my father’s profession I became an engineer, drafting plans for industrial projects, and turned to photography only after losing my job in the 1960s. I already belonged to a circle of San Francisco artists, people of my age, also with families, who were painters, sculptors, musicians, filmmakers and poets. I became involved with the Beats, gays, comedy and the early San Francisco hippie movement as well as the burgeoning social scene of music and poetry. In 1968, while working as an art director for The Wild West, an enormous project that ultimately failed, I organized large-scale happenings, the most memorable of which was dyeing San Francisco Bay green in order to protest industrial policies harmful to the environment.
From 1965 to today, my photographic oeuvre exhibits a range of content, style and material multiple while remaining consistent with the themes and methodology of my halcyon days of carrying a camera everywhere and experimenting to push materials into becoming vehicles for creative expression.
Photographers who have affected my visual thinking are Bill Brandt, Andre Kertesz, Marion Post Wolcott, and Robert Frank (whom I worked with as a gofer while filming Me & My Brother in the Bay Area with Alan Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky), Other influences include Eastern European photo art; the northern California photographers Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, etc. In addition to these Bay Area artists, I should mention the effect of Edward Steichen’s memorable exhibit, The Family Of Man, which shaped my concept of storytelling in a modernist style, through disparate imagery, making a picture worth a thousand words, using photography expressively, in a way that was just plain different from the norm: going beyond most people’s conception of photography as mere imitation or recording.
I experimented with all forms of color printing and processing (such as incorrectly developing film), and investigated historic processes as far as my budget would allow. Seeking a broader dialogue with photography, I worked in the late 1960s with the conceptual artist Bruce Nauman, who shared my interest in making the medium a flexible tool of mindful, intelligent expression and communication.
The primary artistic thrust of these decades of work has been to present to the world what I have wanted to see, and have seen, along with concomitant pieces and bodies of work formed in a stream-of-consciousness manner from my peripatetic wanderings and desire to communicate. It is Aristotelian in a way, the common philosophy of substance and matter, grammar and form. Such a stylistic potpourri can be difficult for some viewers to interpret, yet all of it comprises my truthful expression of the beauty before me. As we know from Keats, beauty is truth and for me, truth is my booty.