Richard Sherman

Artist Statement

 

I am a professional photographer who uses natural light and space to reveal the peace and tranquility of the world.  While I sometimes capture the small escapes of the cities--cafés, fountains, and parks--I focus primarily on nature which provides a true refuge from our hectic modern lives. 

Influences

When I was six or seven years old, our family visited my great uncle, a lifetime merchant mariner, when he arrived into port in Elizabeth, NJ.  During the ship's tour, my great uncle spoke of far away places:  Hong Kong, Brazil, Korea, Australia.  My senses were inundated--the distinctive smells, the loud voices, the yellowish lights, the metal ladders and passageways.  I realized this was an entirely different world.  I began to wonder what was over the horizon, what was it like to visit these far away places.  Thus began a lifelong desire to travel. 

Photography has always been part of my life.  My father was a hobbyist and I can still remember the silver and black Time/Life series in our bookcase.  He shot 35mm slide and print film and even built his own darkroom in our basement.  The red light bulb, and the odor of the chemicals are etched in my memory.

My father gave me my first camera when I was about eight years old, a hand-me-down Brownie.  In my teenage years he taught me the basics of photography:  f/stops, shutter speeds, ASA ratings, and the like.  In my early 20's I was privileged to be commissioned a Naval Officer.  When I received orders to deploy for the first Gulf War, Dad didn't give me advice--having served in the Korean War he knew there was not much to talk about--instead he gave me his Minolta 35mm film camera.  During a missile shoot, I climbed out on the ship's bridge.  I put in fast film, opened up the aperture, and set the fastest shutter speed possible.  I then braced the camera on the steel superstructure, pressed my finger halfway down the shutter release button and waited.  When the missile fired, I jumped and my finger squeezed the shutter button just as I had hoped.  About eight months later I returned home and dropped off my film.  I waited a week and then picked up my photos.  Amidst the stacks of images I found my photo of the missile--it was in perfect focus, surrounded by a plume of smoke about 20 feet out of the box.  From that date, my interest in photography began to grow.

Fast forward many years, many trips, dozens of photography books, and thousands of photographs later and my hobby had blossomed into a passion.  During that time, I also switched to digital.  In addition, I spent some tutorial time with a lifetime photographer and a director at a local arts council.  We met several times, he reviewed my work, and sent me out to shoot a project which he then evaluated.  At the end of our sessions he said to me, "You know, you could do this for a living if you wanted."  A seed had been implanted.  A short while later, I decided to make photography my career. 

Final Thoughts

"Why photography?" people ask.  I suppose it stems from a deeper philosophy about life.  Today we have control over so much--from the temperature in our homes to the whiteness of our teeth--yet we cannot control the flow of time.  But the camera is a tool, a tool that helps us battle our own mortality.  Although we cannot stop time, we can pause it with the shutter.  And then we can share our experiences with others.  I believe that the camera was never optional, it was something humankind had to invent.  And so the young mom still holds her newborn, the little boy still smiles on his new bike, and grandfather still naps on the porch.  As our ancestors gathered around the fire, we gather around our photographs--from these images stories are told and retold, experiences are recounted, laughter is shared and tears are shed. 

Several years have passed since my father died, the flow of time continues.  I feel a special bond with him each time I pick of my camera bag.  And then I head out, hunting for something special to bring back and share with others.  Like other hunters, I mount my prizes:  these are my photographs.