Preserving the artist's heritage
Brian Peterson

Interviewed in 2015
Sponsored by James A. Michener Art Museum
Zoriana Siokalo, Advisor
Alice Lawler, Docent
Barbara Rabson, Docent
Rob Kates, Video Producer

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Statement

From Fairmount Park to Photoshop: A Photographer’s Journey

Nearly fifty years of creativity behind me, and the simple questions, “How does it happen?”  and “Where does it come from?” are as mysterious now as they were when I was negotiating the trails of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia lugging a tripod and a Speed Graphic press camera. I’d bought that beat-up machine for fifty bucks from a guy who was more ancient than the camera and in worse shape. He was about to move to a nursing home and had to sell all his equipment, so he even threw in the huge flash unit that took four size-D batteries and weighed about twenty pounds.
  
I loved that camera. The heft of the thing—the cloth cover—the little flap that blocked out light on the ground-glass viewfinder—the huge strap on the side—the delicate click of the shutter inside the Ektar lens. And those big juicy negatives—mmm, mmm, good. Throwing the dark cloth over my head was like entering a world of adventure and mystery. Grabbing the tripod’s arm, slowly panning the lens around, seeing the world like a full-course dinner just waiting to be eaten—this made me happy. Not McDonald’s Happy Meal happy. Something wider and deeper.
  
I’ve always been a restless photographer. I’ve pointed my cameras at various vegetables, mountains, oceans, and blades of grass—explored my connections with family and friends through portraiture—played with plastic cameras that create an ethereal universe of dream and transformation—and drifted toward abstraction as well as more personal and symbolic meditations on aging, illness, and transcendence using my own body as subject. My world has expanded, but nothing has changed. I’m still the same crazy guy who fell in love with an old press camera and used that camera to open the door to a universe of nature, rhythm, and light. And those old questions still haunt me: how does it happen, and where does it come from?
   
Same questions, same answer. Where I point the camera and when I snap the shutter are my decisions, but there is someone, something else doing it with me. Something wider and deeper.
   
Together, we dance…
                           

Brian H. Peterson