This body of work dates back to my days in New York City: 1980 – 1983.
Looking back upon these photographs from where I stand today, I see so clearly what I couldn’t see back then; they were a picture window into my psyche. What I captured with my cherished 35mm camera was driven by what I was seeing, and what I was seeing was driven by what I was feeling; it was the reflection of my very own soul.
It all started in a small random bar in upstate NY. The catalyst ignited when I had stopped for a beer and a smoke while on a road trip with my buddy, to his sister’s house in Ithaca. The guy across the bar lit a cigarette, and when the match light lit his face, it was all I needed to be completely seduced by the ambiance of these dark, moody bars. While others my age reveled in partying in the clubs in NYC, I was drawn to the rawness and solitude of “old man bars” and the bar car on the Long Island Rail Road. It crept under my skin and compelled me to get the job done, and there was plenty of work to do; drinking, photographing, documenting, and trying to decipher the bareness and loneliness.
All these years later, I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned a great deal during this time, about the human condition, about the depths of loneliness and desperation of the soul, and about myself. Additionally, I learned great technical skills during the course of this work. I hand held a 35 mm camera at very slow shutter speeds in very dark locations. (Flash would have completely changed the scene and the look I was trying to capture). I experimented with different films and different developers, determined to discover better ways to bring out the details in the shadows. I gained great printing skills transforming those thin black and white negatives into rich silver halide prints. Those original silver prints have been scanned and reproduced on an archival pigment printer, to create the prints you see here.
I’m grateful that today I can appreciate these images as the product of my formative years as an artist, as a photographer, but most importantly, as a human being.