John: Hello Alex, great to see you again, especially as this is our first official interview for Long Island Portfolio magazine.
Alex: Exciting times, isn’t it? Thank for all of the guidance and hard work you have been putting into our Premiere Issue.
John: I really share your excitement. I read in one of your Model Citizen Magazine articles that you were led to believe that photography is not art. Can you tell us about that?
Alex: I think I told you I got my first camera around 1965, a Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic, you know, with the flash cubes? In those days in Brooklyn schools, we used to have a separate art teacher that would come to the classroom. One of those teachers had asked us what kind of art we did, and when I said photography, she said it did not count, or at least for her purposes it did not count. It did not help that over the years, mostly I heard that people who used cameras were labeled as artists and not photographers.
I have since come to the understanding that as painters
are artist, so too are photographers. Cartier-Bresson, Arbus, Lange, Avedon… all artists. Weston, Leibovitz, Adams, artists; even Alex M. Wolff. There are many types of photographers and for the most part, combine their technical know-how with their artistic vision. It’s as true for photojournalist and wedding photographers as it is for commercial photographers, and yes, fine art photographers.
Sometime around 2008, the realization hit me fully and I changed my working title at Concierge Photography from Photographer to Photographic Artist (and added Director of Photography the last couple of years when I started directing photography and lighting for local indy director, Maria Sawoch Filipone). And the change came very suddenly. Typically, I endeavored to capture an image in the camera, and it either met my objective or it didn’t. I built up a small library of really good photographs, and a really large library of, to quote Agent 86, “Missed it by that much!”
One image convinced me to change from what I categorized as a Capture mindset to a Create mindset. Although it started as 2 images I took while running race committee for Sagamore Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, I saw potential for something better and I sat down in my first serious Photoshop session. About 9 hours later, I had created an image called Happy Fleet. I won’t bore you with the details, but the image Illustration of the Year for Professional Photographers of Greater New York, and Town of Oyster Bay People’s Choice Environmental Photo of the Year awards. It’s one of my bestselling artworks.
You can see an example of capture vs create and Happy Fleet in the accompanying artwork.
John: Did that change you in any other way?
Alex: The experience caused a shift in how I viewed other arts, not just photography. For me, certain terms started to carry redundancies that suggested a split when there really is none. Two examples are Artists and Entertainers, and Arts and Crafts. They seem exclusionary to me. It is the major reason Long Island Portfolio is taking the broadest view possible, inviting our readers to nominate artists of every kind to be featured artist.
John: That works for me! Thanks for taking the time so close to our publishing date. Are you publishing the whole magazine at once?
Alex: With about 160 pages, it could be daunting for our subscribers to receive it in one big go. Over the next few days we will be sharing featured artist articles 1 or 2 at a time and sharing them across Facebook, Linked-In, Instagram and on our blog at www.longislandportfolio.com. I expect the full magazine PDF to be available online on Thursday, the same day we start sending it to the 80,000 people on our mailing list.
John Dowling Interviews has been working to build personal branding content for many years. You can reach out to him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JohnDowlingInterviews/