A Place To See My Latest Creative Endeavers

A (not so) Brief Biography

I have been active, as a photographer since I was 7 or 8, when I got my first Kodak brownie camera. The camera, which shot rolls of 127 size film, was capable of only 1 exposure setting, and needless to say, didn't have any flash. Despite those handicaps, I spent a number of years shooting pictures with that camera... When I got my first camera that I could actually adjust the exposure on, to properly expose the film, it seemed that photography was almost too easy...

Photography has always been far more of an avocation for me than a profession... Perhaps it was simply a few disasters, when I was trying to make a living as a photographer, that kept me away from a career in photography... I am not sure.

Several notable people, and many unknowns have helped guide me in my path through creative photography.

I can mention the name of only a very few photographers, who almost everyone knows... One of those names was Ansel Adams. I never did know him well enough to call him a friend... but, when over a few years, I met him on numerous occasions, I could say that he did remember my name.

However, given his massive presence in the culture of photography and environmentalism, he had a huge influence on me, and on my work as a photographer. For a number of years I was a strict adherent of "The Zone System" and the "f-64 group."

It has only been widely understood, what I felt for quite some time... That Ansel Adams, despite his introduction of the zone system, and his abhorrence of "fuzzy thinking," in the realm of photography, was really quite a visionary. Indeed almost a mystic, in his choice of subject matter, and presentation.


Another great photographer, who influenced me greatly, was Wynn Bullock. I think more than any other photographer, he helped me to see how I could follow my own path.

Certainly I was already greatly impressed by what images I had seen of his, printed in books, etc., but when I actually met him, and saw his latest work, in 1975 at the infamous Focus Gallery, on Grant St., in San Francisco, I was stunned.

I had never seen anything so amazing... His work was dark, mystical, more alive and intuitive, than any other photographer, and decidedly vissionary! To me, being able to actually meet the man who created these great works of art, was sort of kin to an accolate being able to dance at the feet of a shaman!

For quite some time we talked, and talked, and talked... Indeed, every time I started to bow out, (feeling guilty about not being able to afford to buy anything,) so that he could get on with talking to the people who were buying his gorgious books, and asking him to sign them, he would keep asking me to come back, so that we could talk some more!

Needless to say, I was quite willing to oblige. I have never met a person, before or since, who was that willing to freely share his life and his work, and his heart, with someone who was a total stranger. I shall for all my life be indebted to this man who taught me so much...all in less than a day!

At any rate, eventually the gallery was about to close, the owner having been glaring at me for quite some time, and Wynn was about to go somewhere with his family, and all I could think to say, was Thank you!

I learned some time later that only a short time after that gallery opening Wynn Bullock died in Monterey, California. During his life he had become fairly famous, and widely respected, but has, until recently, been almost forgotten. I am glad to see that his work, which was always quite unique, has started to become more widely recognized for the masterwork that it is!

Imogen Cunningham was a one of those photographers that I never really understood. She was, of course, quite famous, being one of those exclusive original members of the famous "f-64" group, and very highly respected, despite having been, in her earlier years, one of those pictorialists, who as a group were so despised by the f-64'ers.

And I certainly didn't have any problem appreciating her work! From Lillys to dancers, from nudes to family portraits, from mountain scenes to still lives, she had covered it all, and from what I could see, had done it all quite well!

Still, she was, somehow an enigma, for me... for quite some time.

Then, after moving to San Francisco, I would keep bumbing into her, as we both liked to walk the city streets...

Eventually I got to know her better, and even visited her, in her tiny, crampted little darkroom. Sometimes we would share photographs...
She never talked about the "old" days... indeed, I don't remember ever talking to her about anything of a personal nature... only about photography.

Eventually, as she got older, I saw her less and less on the city streets.... but then one day, just by chance, I happened to hear that she was giving a talk, and having an opening of some kind, at Lone Mountain Collage, where I worked at the time.

When I came into the room where she was, sitting like a queen inspecting her retinue,  I saw a long line of people waiting to say hello to her, so I thought I would look at some of her photographs, and wait for the line of people to get shorter.... Suddenly, the supprisingly loud voice of Imogen Cunningham, said, "Bruce, come here!" So I got an official pass to cut in line and say hello to her for about 5-10 minutes... It was really quite fun.

The next day, I couldn't figure out why everyone at the collage was treating me so differently... then someone I knew, told me that word had gotten around the school that I "knew" Imogen Cunningham.


Some times things that everyone seems to know, escape me, simply because I have such an almost random way of learning and reading- just whatever takes my fancy, at the time... so I was more than a little suprised to learn, just last year, that Wynn Bullock  and Imogen Cunningham were great friends for a number of years!


Another great photographer, that I really appreciated,  was Minor White. He was, despite his somewhat esoteric take on things, a very skilled technician, and a highly creative and expressive artist, able to easily bend the medium of photography for his quite individual creative needs.

However it has only been quite recently, while searching for some new directions to take on my search for creative originality, that I came to appreciate the level of creative freedom Minor must have provided to his students.

I happened to read an unpublised artice by Minor White, describing how an accidental destruction of a coffee cup, might very well have been the coffee cup's willful intent to find itself in a new form... I know this might sound a bit esoteric, and indeed a few years ago I might have dismissed the whole thing as silly... but somehow his idea that the photographer should somehow "listen" to what the scene around him or her wanted to have for an image,  really stuck with me.

Indeed, this new insight, and my own experiments with long time exposure photography have sent me off on a completely new direction. Who knows where all this will end up, but what is certain is that I have more than enough, in this one area alone, to keep me busy the rest of my life!

more to follow~

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