Some Terms that Define my Latest Work

High Quality Low Fidelity:

…from the Brownie Nudes Series…

…from the Brownie Nudes Series…

High-Quality Low-Fidelity: I’m not sure exactly how I came up with this term. It just popped into my head as I was trying to come up with ways to create interesting images with a pictorialist tradition. For the Brownie Nudes series, I have deliberately chosen to push high speed film in a way that would encourage grain, and I deliberately chose a camera…a Brownie Hawkeye… actually two of them… which are point-and-shoot cameras from the 1950’s that have almost no controls over the exposure and absolutely no control over the focus of the images.

The ways I chose to manipulate the elements of the image were instead accomplished by playing with film speed and processing. I chose lighting that would allow the exposure I wanted within the limits of the film and the camera, which only has one shutter speed, and its feasibility for producing an acceptable image.

The Virtues of Bad Lighting:

This image is from a series of test Images done with an anatomically-correct doll. This is not a real person. It was photographed on high-speed film with a Nikon F and a macro lens by lamp light.

This image is from a series of test Images done with an anatomically-correct doll. This is not a real person. It was photographed on high-speed film with a Nikon F and a macro lens by lamp light.

The Virtues of Bad Lighting is a term I have come up with for a concept that I am still exploring. I think it may be better referred to as “The Virtues of Bad Technique” …or… “The Virtues of Technical Flaws or problems”

I have decided that for all of the time I have spent learning proper and “good” ways to produce images in the editorial world, I have to spend just as much time now unlearning those techniques in order to produce interesting images again in my art practice. While “happy accidents” do of course occur in my work, I would much rather transform those accidents into repeatable techniques for my tool kit, instead of developing a superstitious reliance on serendipity. This will likely be a lifelong practice.

The picture above is from a series that I am still working on in the background. It’s a series of portraits and studies of anatomically-correct dolls. At first, I was sort of hesitant to do this at all, but it turns out that working with these dolls has actually opened up creativity in my mind that has lead to other collections of images which don’t involve the dolls at all. It could be that the doll project will develop into work with its own merits at some point, or it may never surface as mature work for me. Time will tell. For now, the dolls will fill my journal in small machine prints amid hastily scrawled notes scribbled with an ink pen.

Where I've Been and Where I Plan to Go...

Where I’ve been…

About three years ago, after almost exactly 20 years of being self-employed as a photographer, I found myself finally fed up with the assignment photography rat race and started thinking about becoming a fine art photographer instead so I could, quite frankly, please myself. The last five years of that period had really become a struggle…. not just financially, but creatively. Nothing I was shooting was even remotely inspiring and at some point, after long deliberations and lots of fretting, I decided to just get a regular job and step back from freelance assignment photography. Somewhere in the middle of that last five years, I bought an old Nikon F and rediscovered analog photography.

Years prior to this though, is when I think the true death spiral of Tom Nutter Photography began… and ironically perhaps, It was when I traveled to the now out-of-business Lens & Repro Equipment Corporation in New York City to sell the contents of my little green Domke bag which was full of the beloved Leica cameras and lenses that had traveled the world with me, but I barely used anymore. Before they became …as I stupidly feared at the time… super-expensive paperweights after the final demise of film, I wanted to sell them to fund the updated digital camera that I needed so desperately to keep myself on the pro photography treadmill. Analog photography mattered to me and somehow digital assignment photography was lost on me as a way forward.

While this is not really an argument about digital vs. analog photography, I felt compelled in this first blog post to explain myself a little to the people that matter in my creative career. Basically I was not feeling fulfilled and needed a change. I have limited assignment photography to very choice opportunities and commissions and I am now working as a fine art photographer.

Where I am Going…

I’m almost three years into my “straight job” and after keeping a low profile for a much needed respite, I am feeling creative again. Since film-photography has finally found a fairly sound footing again as a bit of a niche, and since analog is where my heart is, I have chhosen to work almost exclusively in that medium.

Much of my work is experimental, though not necessarily ground-breaking, and often starts as some sort of technical exercise to challenge the limits of my abilities with this analog medium. I am interested in creating unique images that are rooted in reality…meaning there will be a physical negative and hand-made prints presented as provenance for the work that was done.

Current Themes:

  • Figure Studies - something I have been working on quietly for the last decade

  • Small Picture Essays - explorations of certain subject matter that I find interesting and photographically feasible as collections of prints and/ or books.

  • Portraits - I am a portrait photographer and I always will be. The portraits will be much more artistic and personal in both their composition and in who is chosen as the portrait subject.