Carolina Arts has a press release in their September issue on my solo show; RELATIVITY, with Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art.
A reception is being held this Friday, the 13th from 5-8PM. Map below. Hope to see you there!!!
Carolina Arts has a press release in their September issue on my solo show; RELATIVITY, with Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art.
A reception is being held this Friday, the 13th from 5-8PM. Map below. Hope to see you there!!!
RELATIVITY: The dependence of various physical phenomena on relative motion of the observer and the observed objects, especially regarding the nature and behavior of light, space, time and gravity…
Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art is pleased to announce Relativity, a new solo exhibition of large format silver gelatin photographs by artist Mike Basher. The artist reflects upon his profound regard for our environment. Engaging in form and emotion, this collection of photographs displays a definite subject in an obscure place, which speak directly to a broad audience. Merging photography and design, Basher carefully crafts these thought provoking vignettes on large sheets of black and white film, which deliver a richness and clarity to his works.
For the past sixteen years, Mike Basher has traveled the globe photographing campaigns for large corporations such as Under Armour, Reebok and The North Face, working with celebrities and athletes like Michael Phelps, Lindsey Vonn, and Andy Murray. This selection of his photography is the antithesis.
His inspiration for his work comes from the solitude of the outdoors. Mike’s sublime, minimalistic photographs take a look at scenes often visited by others, yet his approach in isolating subjects leaves the viewer to often question, and even disregard its whereabouts.
Working exclusively with large format black and white film, each image is carefully crafted-seen through the process of making a precise exposure, hand developing the negative, final printing and display. This involved, hands-on craft brings him close to his work. What the viewer sees is essentially an extension of his persona. Quiet and precise, yet bold.
The artist will be at the gallery located at 58 Broad Street for his exhibition opening. Friday, September 13th from 5:00 until 8:00 pm the reception will coincide with the Charleston Art Gallery Association Art Walk in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The exhibit will be on view through September 30th, 2019.
It’s getting to be R/V [Research Vessel] time again!
A few weeks ago, we had a perfect day to get out on the water, and blow the dust off of the boat and camera, to get ready for some upcoming projects, so I decided to put together a short behind the scenes video for anyone who wants to tag along on my adventures.
This particular exposed sand bar is part of the Rachel Carson Reserve, which is a preserved marine environment of about 2,300 acres, and is home to wild horses, migrating birds, all sorts of marine critters, and as you’ll see in this video; lots of cool sand bars, some of which are only exposed at low tide.
I was drawn to making this particular photograph by the spectacular thunder clouds in the distance reflecting off the surface of the water in each tide pool. It brought a contrast to the scene that would’ve otherwise been very flat and dull (like the pool closest to the camera in the final photograph, which leads you through the composition). The mottled highlights in the pools across the scene were just so unique and fleeting, and say so much about this fragile, but dramatic tidal environment.
How did you get your start in photography?
I’ve always been very mechanically inclined, and love to ponder how things work. From a young age, I was intrigued by cameras and the film they used to record images. My senior year in high school, when I had to make the decision as to what I was going to do with my life, I elected to take a photography class, and once I witnessed the magic of my first black and white print emerging beneath the soft red glow of the darkroom’s safelight, I was hooked.
Once I got into it, I saw the camera as a tool. It could see things in ways I couldn’t with my own eyes, because of what is possible through optics; both wide-angle and telephoto. Between the detail extracted from a scene to the effects of different lenses, it all became a creative method with almost unlimited combinations to create what I prefer to consider to be balanced, visual equations.
What is your process and what tools do you use to capture your unique landscapes?
Over my career, I’ve photographed pretty much everything you can photograph, from commercial campaigns for huge corporations with personalities like Michael Phelps to editorial work of people snowboarding down volcanoes in Japan. Taking my black and white fine art work into consideration, my creative sides are polar opposites. On one hand, for advertising work, I’m working with the highest-end medium format digital cameras, with all sorts of chaos happening on the set of a shoot. On the other, it’s just me, a box camera, and a few sheets of film, chasing this photograph that I’ve constructed in my mind, and am quietly trying to assemble in the camera.
When I’m out in the field working, I am focused on every nuance in each scene and composition, and never press the shutter button unless I’m completely confident that I’ve achieved what I’m after. I’ve set up the camera hundreds of times, and worked as diligently as possible to try to achieve what I’d consider a perfect composition, and for one reason or another, have failed to do so. Some photographs just aren’t meant to be. But, that image I’m chasing stays in my mind, almost haunting me, until I can eventually successfully create it.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I think that like most creatives would say, the ultimate flattery is in having someone falling in love with something you created, and inviting it into their element. I recently had a collector looking for the perfect piece for above their bed for nearly two decades, and in an instant, fell in love with one of my photographs, and brought it into their lives. Art isn’t a necessity; it’s not bread or milk, but when you observe someone whom is just completely captivated by something you meticulously created, it is the ultimate reward. Every little detail, every step you slogged through a swamp, every frozen night sleeping on the ground, every bit of yourself where you could’ve given up, and called it “good enough”, but you wouldn’t stop until you were satisfied, and what you created that moment is speaking to someone’s soul…that’s what it’s all about.
What message do you hope to convey to the viewer with your art?
I want the viewer to feel a fond familiarity with the scenes I photograph, but also question its location, due to the ambiguity I introduce into my scenes. I prefer not to lose the viewer in the mundane details of recognition of place, but for the viewer to get lost in the space I’ve provided.
Stylistically, I don’t think my work fits into any specific genre. I don’t consider myself a landscape photographer, because I don’t take images of moments in time at specific places. In fact, I do everything I can to remove the sense of place, and often times, even omit the sense of dimension from my work. I prefer working in flat light, and choosing scenes and subjects that I can work into a two-dimensional rectangle as design elements. I’d say that above all, design is what moves me to pressing the shutter.
What is your favorite and least favorite color?
I guess I’d have to say my favorite color is brown. Different shades of brown translate into gorgeous tones on black and white film, and the best brown tones come in the winter, which is my favorite time to make photographs. Greens, on the other hand, generally yield a heavy, almost lifeless look.
What is your favorite tool?
While I started my photography career with film, I made the transition to digital along with most of the rest of the world in the early 2000’s. The immediate reward of digital imaging was definitely handy in many ways, but I began to feel a disconnect from my work. In 2009, I bought a large format camera to slow down my creative process. I had loved working with these cameras and big sheets of film in college, so I was really excited about incorporating both into my personal work.
If you’re unfamiliar with the view camera, it’s what Ansel Adams (and most photographers from the inception of photography until the first half of the 1900’s) worked with. There are literally zero electronics. No autofocus, no meter, the image is viewed upside down on the back of the camera, and it’s pretty much impossible to use one without a tripod. To work with a view camera is to be deliberate in your approach. You don’t just go post-holing through fields of poppies, snapping off hundreds of photos, which you’ll select (and Photoshop) the best of later on. With film, you have to slow down…and smell those poppies! But, you can do things with film that would be otherwise impossible to accomplish digitally. I prefer to function in that realm.
What part of art do you love / hate?
I’d have to say that my least favorite thing is marketing, because although marketing is an art, I feel it’s so anti-art, and is very misleading. As with any other art, like, say, music, you have to wonder how many incredible songs and musicians you’d miss out on if you only listened to radio stations. Most of those bands are marketed big time, and they become household hames because of that marketing, and listeners ask to listen to them, because they feel familiar. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this hot new band makes skillful, soulful, or meaningful music…it’s just what ears are used to hearing. I think the same goes for visual arts, especially photography. Instead of the artists with cohesive, deep bodies of compelling work, it’s often those who are making cliché pieces, but are great at marketing that are getting a lot of the market share.
My favorite aspect is tackling challenges. I’m not the type of photographer who hits up the hot spots and nabs a shot of what the scenic overlook looked like that day. I prefer to take it as far as I can, hike further, wade deeper into the water, and just try to turn over different stones than everyone else. When I do find a cool treasure, I like to tell my own unique story of it.
If you could see your artwork displayed in any venue in the world where would that be and why?
I’ve been (no pun intended) developing a new body of work that is environmentally-focused, using photographic processes that I’ve had to concept, create, and evolve. The approach is completely unique, and pushes the envelope of what photography has been capable of capturing.
While this may not be a specific answer to your question, I’ve been working on teaming up with scientists to apply this technique I’ve developed to apply my work alongside their environmental studies in a manner which delivers a more contemplative message than as literal of a look into natural processes as photography has traditionally taken. Put simply, I’d love for my work to help people understand environmental issues in a more contemplative manner.
Part of an ongoing series about some beach somewhere; Folly Beach, South Carolina is a tourist haven. Vacation rentals line both sides of the road that runs from end to end of the six mile long barrier island, which is a twenty-minute drive from Charleston. It is riddled with restaurants, gift shops, kayak rentals, and everything under the sun…that…you can do under the sun. Almost every square inch of this island’s dry land has been developed.
It feels like chaos every time I’m there.
But, there’s a beautiful calmness amongst all of the bustle and pastel-colored stilt homes, where the tide visits twice a day. The ocean's currents at Folly Beach shape sand bars and bare tidal pools, as the island constantly changes shape.
These photographs were made under harsh summer sun, where I used the sun’s specular highlights shimmering on the water’s surface to expand the contrast within what would ordinarily be a fairly low contrast scene. By doing this, I was able to assign the sand a much darker tone, which gives the resulting photographs a dramatic mood.
These delicate exposures took careful positioning of the camera, working with the changing tide and sun’s location throughout the day.
I feel like maybe I’ve used the title “California Dreaming” for a previous post, but it’ll just have to be…
In October, I made what’s becoming my annual pilgrimage out to Northern California for a bout a week, and had a downright pleasurable time! Dropped by some totally awesome galleries, saw some old friends, and of course, made a few new photographs.
Two years ago, I began poking around the California coast, and have found some pretty sweet spots. Some are on the beaten path, and others…well…they take some serious work to get to.
Here are a few new photographs in the collection from this October’s trip. I hope you enjoy!
Been getting a lot of love lately from Ilford - the wonderful folks across the pond in England. Even though I was born and raised in Kodak's back yard, I was hooked on Ilford's films and papers the first time I used them, in 1997. Straight up.
Anyway, they were drawn to the making of this particular photograph, HUNTING ISLAND XVI, so asked me a few questions about it. You can read about it HERE!
Hundreds showed up throughout the evening, red dots went up, and I received such a warm welcome from Charleston.
HUGE thanks to Ella, Christine and Tristan from the gallery, who wrangled everything leading up to and during the show!
I grew up in New York State, not far from Kodak HQ in Rochester, NY. My grandfather bought his first camera from George Eastman himself. I'm not from a long line of photographers by any means, but even given my geographic upbringing, I've always been an ilford guy. I don't know what initially turned me on to them, but the British film and paper brand has never done me wrong.
So, when I reached out to them a bit back, and nervously offered to write a little something for their site, and they said "yes", the pressure was on. I'll be straight up honest that this piece took way too long for me to finalize. Concepted forever ago. Written half of forever ago, and the selected photographs made 8 months ago. Submitted to them two days ago.
Why? For the same reason I'm critical about my own photography enough to write a piece pertaining to quality over quantity in photography which I feel is nearly impossible to achieve unless you're working with film, the same standard should be held in talking about it. In my mind, anyway.
So...that said, here's a link to the feature on Ilford's site. I hope you enjoy!
Took the big boys for an after school cruise in the RV (Research Vessel) on my birthday two weeks ago. We checked out a range marker that I've had my eye on for a while now, since the sun was in the right spot, and it was low tide. The camera and I were still in about four feet of water...
Then...an island hopping mission ensued. Enjoy the tour of a few waterways and islands in the Beaufort, NC area!!!
March was a challenging month, in that everywhere I was, it was relentlessly windy. Every day. That's the way it goes, I guess.
In the middle of the month, I drove to Charleston to drop off several pieces that Ella Richardson Fine Art had sold, and while I was there, I decided to check out a nearby island which has been slipping away into the sea. It's really an incredible sight, as you emerge from the tranquil woods, into this beach that is just littered with trees–live oaks, pines, and palm trees, all of which have been tackled by the unforgiving ocean.
Photographing this area proved to be quite a challenge, as trees are strewn about everywhere, and finding a pleasing composition never came easy. To top it off, the wind was whipping up the beach all day.
I was forced to wade across waist-deep lagoons to access a few areas, which got a bit hairy, because of the incoming tide, but luckily I wasn't stranded.
Enjoy the photographs, and the behind the scenes views of this vanishing landscape...
Yeah, I VLOG now.
Not really, but I'm doing my best to do a little peering into what exactly it is I'm doing each month. Some months, it's a lot. Others, not so much so.
Anyway, this is like a feature-length movie for me...behind the scenes in the making of CYPRESS STUDIES.
I was originally intrigued by bald cypress, mainly because of their environment. They thrive under the perfect, but specific conditions; alongside the muddy waters of southern rivers and lakes. They almost stand guard over the shoreline, some of the lucky ones living for thousands of years. Each is unique, from its fluted trunk up to its often windswept branches.
Working with large format camera systems is a tedious, but methodical process on dry land. Add a boat, wind, water depths, and some general unknowns (SNAKES) into the equation, and things turn into a real, but fun challenge.
Anyway...I hope you enjoy this walk and boat ride through some beautiful cypress forests I've been exploring.
I'm here to tell you about a little place called Iceland. If you've spent any time at all on Instagram, you've likely seen all sorts of scenes from Iceland. Like-fetching, follower-getting, cliché wanderlusty pics of people out there, living their best life ever (hopefully better than yours). Well, this is my turn at that same story...
Late last August, my buddy Rob Larson, who I attended art school with in Pittsburgh, and I found some wickedly cheap flights to Reykjavik, which we couldn't pass up. We'd been talking about Iceland for like a decade, but it was always unrealistically expensive to get there. So, we booked these cheapo flights, which even included a seat to sit in, found a sweet car, charted our course, reserved a few spots along the route to sleep (which cost almost as much as my flight), and hoped for the best.
A few weeks later, we were aboard the plane, headed northeast...FAR northeast.
I had ordered up 100 sheets of film for this three and a half day whirlwind trip. To put that into perspective, I usually shoot about 100 sheets of film a year. But, I wanted to be safe, and a few extra sheets of film doesn't really take up a lot of room. This was a trip I've dreamed about for 20 years, after all...
I didn't really know what to expect from Iceland. I mean...it was August, and like a million degrees at home. Would it rain? Would it snow? Would it be super windy? Wind and large format photography DO NOT mix. Would I be able to get photographs because of all of the above? In case you're unfamiliar with how working with large format cameras works, it's like the old adage of walking uphill to school both ways, but instead of snow, it's deep mud. Your book bag weighs as much as your little brother, and when you FINALLY get to school, instead of getting to use a calculator on your math problems, you're forced to use a slide rule (we got to the Moon with a slide rule, by the way). I guess the usage of the word "forced" there might be a bit harsh, as truthfully, I love working with my slide rule of a camera, and find I work much, much more diligently as a photographer with it over having a digital camera in my hand.
So...there we were; Iceland...and all I had brought was a box camera and a few sheets of film.
Upon landing in Reykjavik at 5:00am, after sleeping maybe three minutes on the plane (no matter how hard I try, I cannot sleep on planes), we grabbed our 2017 Hyundai Sadness, and hit the road for what would be the most sleep-deprived trip of my life (this, coming from a father of three).
After doing some research online, and looking at satellite imagery, which I actually do a lot of my location scouting from, Rob and I had charted a course, which would take us from the airport in the south west corner of the island, along the southern coast, and out to the fjords on the south eastern corner of the island. We would back track our way back, giving us the opportunity to visit a few spots twice, and ad different times of the day. It was going to be a haul, though. In the three and a half days we spent there, we covered nearly a thousand miles, shooting from dawn until into the night, then driving to the next bed we had booked for a few short hours of sleep.
I've always kind of considered myself a bit of a geology nut. I don't know anything about it, really, but I'm fascinated by different layers of things. Maybe that's why I like cake. The landscape in Iceland is different around every corner. Always something new and different. It's pretty wild, actually. I wish I knew more about rocks than I do, but maybe I'll start taking night classes, or something.
So...I don't know where this story ends, but I'm running out of words, and the photographs have all been made. You can click on that tab top left there that says ICELAND to see the whole collection of photographs from the trip. Thanks for stopping by!
Working with film, there’s a lot of forethought that has to go into what you’re doing while out in the field. Hopefully, this involved process is felt in the final photograph, but often goes unnoticed in the making of...
Here’s a piece from a new series I’ve started, which I photographed on Saturday. Was in the RV (Research Vessel) for five hours, and traveled nearly seven miles, a good deal of which was wading across expansive sand flats, only a few inches deep, pulling the RV by rope behind me. In the rain.
Anyway...that entire day, I composed and made two photographs.
You can scroll through to see the actual film from one of them, to get an idea of what’s involved in getting things right in-camera. The photo of the 4x5 inch negative is just a straight iPhone shot against my light table. No filters added no cropping, etc...
The composition I decided on was done after moving the tripod several times, to where things felt balanced, and had to correct to keep the pilings vertical, so they wouldn’t visually converge toward the top.
As equally important as all of that, came the exposure and processing of the film, which I treat different ways for different projects and subject matter.
Anyway...I hope you enjoy!
Ella Richardson and I just put together an exhibition of my work at her lovely Charleston gallery, which will be hanging through the month of January. If you're in the area, drop in and check it out! Map below...
Here's a snippet about the show, titled Shadow Aspect: "Most people think that shadows follow, precede, surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.’ – Elie Wiesel. Praxis Gallery seeks the submission of photographic art that explores the formal, conceptual and metaphoric implications of the shadow. Submissions may focus on the shadow as pure visual form expressed through the creation of line, shape, pattern and texture. They may also examine the cultural and psychological implications of the shadow - exploring ideas of foreboding, internal conflict, passages into the unconsciousness, or other ephemeral interpretations.
Specto Art Space, literally a brand new gallery in Bridgewater, VA, is having their inaugural show, and POUND NET IX has been juried in! The exhibit will open February 10th, and run through March 9th. Super pumped to have my work alongside some amazing photography!
Check it all out HERE.