Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949, my interests in photography came about through my father. Professionally a dentist, he loved photography and worked at being a serious hobbyist. But it was the magic of his funky, small attic darkroom that entranced me at an early age. I was probably not much more than six or seven when he let me watch and eventually help.
At the time I was just tall enough to peer over the counter and into the trays where pictures somehow mysteriously appeared. As I grew older and taller, I was assigned various duties; I learned how to move prints from tray to tray without damaging them, how to properly agitate the “Bakelite” developing tank, and at the end of a print session, how to squeegee dozens of prints onto ferrotype plates to get that glossy finish. For those who can relate, the prints would then curl up tighter than the “Dead Sea Scrolls”.
I went on to get a degree in photography from Ohio University in 1971 and by 1972 I was an Army photographer stationed in Hawaii. It was during this period I photographed the Prisoner of War folio spending 4 months in Vietnam. After my Army stint I stayed in Hawaii and for the next 37 years pursued a career working for the Department of Defense as a Director for Arts and Crafts Programs in Hawaii and Japan. I also became involved with the Honolulu fine art photography community and spent several years on the board of directors of the “Image Foundation”, a non-profit Hawaii State funded organization. The Foundation would become known for its annual juried exhibitions and workshops and by bringing prominent photographers and educators such as Nathan Lyons, Brett Weston, and Arnold Gassen to the Islands.
In 2003 I moved to Japan for 5 years and continued to work for the DOD. It was here that I renewed my interest in large format photography and worked in earnest with the 7” x 17” and 4”x 5” view cameras. At this time I also explored alternative processes in platinum printing. I had taken a workshop with Craig Stevens years earlier and always appreciated the unique tones and quality of this method. Thanks to the good folks at Bostick and Sullivan it is now possible for a layman like myself to pursue this wonderful process by providing the necessary chemicals and materials.
Over the years I have enjoyed being in numerous juried group and individual exhibitions both in Hawaii and Japan and honored to have prints purchased by the State of Hawaii and individual collectors. This body of work is a culmination of over 40 years of a photographic journey that continues to evolve.
Photo by Norman “Crazy Legs” Shapiro