Dennis Stierer
Artist Website
Medium: Photography
Artist Statement/Working Method Being a self-taught photographer who enjoys the peace of using large format cameras, a process that takes time. What draws me to these cameras is the discipline to work slowly, one sheet of film at a time. Taking time to set the camera up, knowing that I have to compose with care, checking the light readings, to thinking about how I want tonal values to appear later in the print is all part of the process. Seeing the image upside down and reversed on the ground glass gives me another way to see the design and composition. I have found over many years of making images, if you sit and watch the light, beautiful photographs will naturally come your way. I’m not a conceptual photographer, but rather a reactionary one. That is, I react to what I see the light doing. My photographs are about the elusive qualities of light, especially soft light. Regardless of the subject – stone, tree, building, machine, or object – it is the light that I am really trying to capture. I can be fascinated by an object and photograph it, but if the light is not right, the image doesn’t work. Each object has it’s own threshold for light and a diffuse, overcast light which illuminates without creating dramatic shadows is my most favorite light to photograph under. By being in tune with your surroundings, subjects will find you. When they do, I let the light bring them to life, to glow, and when that happens, my photograph is created. I am there to enjoy the moment, trip the shutter, and share the experience through my final print. For me, working with a view camera is contemplation, relaxation, right seeing. My printmaking is done in a traditional wet darkroom. Silver gelatin enlargements are made some from some negatives, while others are created by contact printing negatives of same size as the final image under ultra-violet light. Photographs made with platinum metals are exceptionally beautiful; the depth, luminosity, and extensive tonal range create a print unmatched by other printing processes. Platinum/palladium metals are gently brushed onto fine art paper to make a print possessing marvelous aesthetic qualities, which are extremely stable and are considered to be among the most permanent prints ever made. In today’s world of digital photography my methodology is often viewed as that of the “old school” meaning “like back in the days of the dinosaurs.” In reality, the world of photography has made enormous leaps and bounds since the first documented permanent photographic image was made in 1839 and each artist gets to choose how they want to work with the medium. There is no “right or wrong” to these choices, they are simply preferences. For my process, as long as the materials are available – film, platinum and palladium – I will continue to work in the more slow, completely hands-on way that I have chosen because it works for me to do so.