Statement of Perry Hall


    My initial experience with photography was as an architect, documenting buildings under construction.

    While attending classes taught at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, I began
to learn about the opposites in art and life, and I learned to see beauty in, and began to have sincere emotion about, the everyday. My work improved, and I find my camera now constantly looking for instances of beauty, and the powerful relationships of opposites. For this I will always be grateful.

In “The Dramatic Opposites in Photography,” Eli Siegel writes:

Photography showed something that was beautiful about the world:
that there was a oneness between light and dark. And in any rich photograph, the way the two are the same and different is an essential thing. Photography does dramatize light and shade, softness and sharpness, foreground and background; does dramatize where drama is: that is, in the surfaces, the depths, the relations of things.

    While Mr. Siegel’s statement may be most apparent in black and white photography, it also profoundly applies to color, as the colors themselves have their light and dark aspects. Light and dark are indeed the same and different—neither can exist without the other. Light and dark are also in the emotional content of the image. As I took the photo “Working in the Rain” I was asking myself: What do light and dark say about how a person feels, working in the rain, outside at night?

    Softness and sharpness are also revealed through light, gentle or radiant, and the shadows and the darknesses this light creates. This can be controlled on the camera through combinations of sensitivity, aperture, and shutter speed. And now we have the wonders of Photoshop to help us along. I, for one, use this tool liberally—it is an image that has an effect on the viewer that is important to me, not purity of photographic technique. As can be seen, I prefer a painterly image, balancing soft and sharp, to the hyper-sharpness available with the modern camera.

    Drama can often be found in the contrast of foreground and background. This can come from the illusory depth and surface on the flat plane of the print created by perspective, either linear or aerial (a product of light and dark).

    Light and shadow can also show relations between things— those things both unique and everyday, which closely relate to our lives and emotions, our hopes (light) and our fears (dark).

    So hurrah! for the drama in things, both the everyday and the unique, and to Mr. Siegel, whose thought clearly shows us how to look for and find it.

                                                                                                                —PH, 2009

Terrain Gallery - 141 Greene Street - New York, NY 10012 - 212-777-4490