Before moving to Italy, my wife and I worked in the television and film industries of Hollywood. My wife produced television programs for the major studios and I worked as a photographer on films and for various international magazines.
In Italy, I worked with several cultural organizations and ended up teaching studio portrait photography and exhibiting my work throughout the Veneto region of Italy. When we returned to the USA, I decided to work out of the studio construct and explore more environmental portraiture. This led to a two-year project, photographing seventy artists in their studios and culminated with a book and exhibition called Artists in Residence.
The idea for the project started when I was unpacking boxes of books from the move back to the USA. I thumbed through a book about the German photographer, August Sander. The straight –forward manner with which he captured his subjects was the spark that started me thinking of doing the Artists in Residence project. Sander had the great audacity to want to catalogue the German people – I was more modest in my attempt to photograph a cross section of the regional artists who lived in my new geographic area of Pennsylvania called the Leigh Valley. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Leigh Valley (located an hour east of New York City) is comprised of several large and small sized cities – Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown being the best known – but Nazareth, Stockertown, Emmaus, Orefield and Fleetwood and many other small communities dot the valley. That there are so many and diverse artists in the Valley may be attributed to the many Universities, the relative nearness to Philadelphia and New York City or the studio space that can be had at a fraction of the big city prices. Whatever the reason, the area is teeming with artists. Some of these artists have high profile, international reputations, while others were beginning their careers, but all had a passion for making art.
I made several stipulations to help me in my quest for subjects. The first was geographic – the artists had to be in the confines of the Leigh Valley. The other, was that they had to have a studio in which they worked – a barn, a garage, a section of the house – whatever space they deemed suitable and exclusively used to create their work. It was a wonderful project to undertake. I explored the Leigh Valley and discovered a vibrant community of artists. Unlike the celebrities that I had photographed in my studio in Los Angeles, I was the welcome guest in the artist’s studios. The diversity of the artwork – glass-works, fiber and fabric, ceramics, photography, sculpture, painting and paper making were all represented…as were ages, sexes, colors and nationalities of the artists. More than anything, I came away from the project filled with gratitude at the kindness I had been greeted with and the many new friends I now enjoy. [Official Website]