In October, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center features retrospective collections by Robert Taylor and Charles Farmer, two contemporary masters in the West Coast tradition of beautifully-crafted black-and-white photographs.
Robert Taylor: Photographs from Forty Years
For four decades, Robert Taylor has photographed within a few hours’ drive of his home in Ukiah, concentrating on the landscapes he has known all his life (he was born in Mendocino County in 1946). First introduced to photography by a friend in Vietnam, Taylor later refined his knowledge through careful study of the technical manuals of Ansel Adams. He has drawn inspiration from the work of many past and contemporary photographers including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Wynn Bullock, and Paul Caponigro.
"For me, as is surely the case for other photographers, certain photographs possess a magical quality about them,” Taylor states. “The reasons for this allure seem to be both personal and universal. On the personal level, I find myself drawn to themes that have abided in me since childhood, such as a love of nature and a nostalgic view of the passage of time. However, other photographs seem enchanting due to lyrical and emotive qualities inherent in the silver image itself. Subtle qualities of light and tonal nuance seem to charm the psyche regardless of theme or personal preference.... But the abiding joy of photography remains in the fact that where it is leading me is still a great mystery.”
Taylor uses 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras to render fine detail in the natural scene. His photographs are known for their clean composition, their emotive content, and the craftsmanship with which they are produced in his traditional darkroom. Since his first solo exhibition at the Alinder Gallery in 1991, Taylor has shown his work in more than 40 group or solo exhibitions, and has been featured in Black & White Magazine (Issue 39). He is now exclusively represented by Photography West Gallery of Carmel, California, the site of his most recent solo and group exhibitions. His website is at robertbtaylorphotography.com.
Charles Farmer: Silent Moments
Charles Farmer describes himself as “a large-format photographer of the inner landscape.” As another West Coast master, Richard Garrod, puts it, “Charles has developed an ability to surrender to his subjects and to his creative inspiration in order to capture the inner light that we all seek in our images.... His images are a result of the reverence and deeper intent that Charles brings to his work and to his life.”
Farmer’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, and in publications such as Art West, Photographers Forum, Leisure, The Denver Post, Shutterbug, View Camera, Photo Techniques, and Jobo Quarterly. Highlights for him were the publication and exhibition of Portfolio I, Sonata in F# and Portfolio II, Alexis, which have been acquired by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He has released a handmade limited-edition collector’s book, Photographs, Friends & Yarn.
Farmer is well known as a workshop leader. As a photographic consultant, he was a frequent lecturer at Brooks Institute of Photography, and has worked with view camera makers, equipment fabricators, darkroom chemical and equipment manufacturers, optical engineers, private photographic collectors, and fine art photographers.
Charles “Chuck” Farmer was born in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1947, and grew up in Platte City, Missouri. He studied music at Northwest Missouri State University and received a degree in topographical engineering at Draughon’s College. In 1978, having shifted his interest to art and serious photography, he relocated to Santa Barbara, California, where he met his wife, Marta. In 2011, Chuck and Marta moved to Grass Valley, California. Farmer is currently the proprietor of Charles P Farmer Photography and Large Format Consulting Services and serves on the board of directors of Viewpoint. His website is at charlespfarmer-photo.com.
Robert Taylor: Estuary, Sun and Reflections (gelatin silver print, 1987)
Robert Taylor: Buckeye Sky (gelatin silver print, 2012)
Robert Taylor: Whale Rock (gelatin silver print, 2010)
Charles Farmer: Dead Tree (pigment inkjet print, 1983)
Charles Farmer: Fosdick (pigment inkjet print, 2001)
Charles Farmer: Snow Scene (pigment inkjet print, 2012)