By the time I was 14 I was a bona fide car guy reading Hot Rod magazine until it came out of my ears. I don’t know where that came from - none of my family were car people. By the time I was 16, Road and Track magazine was a staple. I loved the articles about racing and Ferraris and Porsches. It’s where my love of photography began. In my first year of university there was an article about how to photograph cars. It captured my attention; it was perfect. I didn’t know it would dominate my life…
It was 1969 and I shopped for three months before I purchased my first camera, a Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm lens - just in time to take it with me on my summer job aboard a survey ship. I can still see the very first picture I took: the first mate at the top of a ladder changing a light bulb on the outside of the bridge. It was in b&w because that’s what you did then - I was thrilled. In retrospect it wasn’t terrible, it was just…ordinary. But I didn’t know that, and didn’t care - I was hooked!
When I returned to Dalhousie University in the fall I joined the student photography department where, over the next two years, I learned how to process film and how to make prints - all b&w of course - with the occasional foray into colour. And I started to think about being a photographer.
Graduation and a regular job followed and photography became a passionate hobby. Photography magazines were now my dominant reading material, supplemented by more serious books and book series - my photography education is a 10’ long shelf - and with support and encouragement by Stephanie, my wife.
She had a friend who was in charge of operations at the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium in Edmonton, Alta. He liked my work and, in 1975, he invited me to be the photographer at the planetarium where I would make visuals for the educational shows created there. Creativity there was at a very high level, but my biggest takeaway was learning how to creatively solve a problem on time and on budget. My interest in b&w photography waned and working in colour became my mainstay as I developed an interest in advertising photography.
In 1981, when we returned to Halifax with our new son so we could be close to family, I decided to take the plunge into the world of freelance photography. Coldwell Photography was born and was my life for 25 years. As a commercial photographer I photographed virtually everything from apples to zebras for advertising agencies, graphic designers and corporate direct. This scratched about 90% of the creative itch. The remaining 10% was personal work which Stephanie continually encouraged me to do.
By 2006 I was burned out and resigned from my photography business to pursue other business interests. And, while my photography took something of a vacation, it remained at my core and demanded expression on a fairly regular basis. By 2017, an ever increasing need to create personal photographs to express the way I see was responsible for another career shift - a return to my main passion of creating photographs as art. There is nothing more satisfying!
As a native Nova Scotian, I currently reside in Dartmouth with Stephanie and our Maine Coon cat, Konstantine (Konnor). I’m fortunate to have a very comfortable studio in my home that gives me immediate access to my creative environment on a moment's notice.
Like many artist photographers I pursue several themes on a regular basis: location - rock formations in Nova Scotia, and studio work - digital photogrammes and photographic still lifes, and everything else. :o)
My inspiration comes from what’s in front of me - it “speaks to me - ‘look at me!’”- or not… It’s not really a choice, as it is a response. It’s not so much me choosing the subject as the subject choosing me.
If you’re a photographer today, you’re probably a digital photographer. I certainly am - now! There’s so much control over what you can do to bring out the best in your images. My goal from a digital perspective is to enrich the viewing experience, not too much, but definitely not too little. Sometimes that means simple adjustments to contrast and control, other times it means adding adjustments/elements - I stop when the image says “yes”. I love the details - they are important, they make what you’re looking at, what it is. This is what I respond to and what I present to you in the hope it will move you, too.
Almost forgot - what happened to the car nut...? the car nut is still here - has a Porsche … loves to drive, can't wait to get behind the wheel...!
I tend to be blunt. I’m definitely straightforward. I say what I mean and I mean what I say and I prefer plain, simple language.
My photographs are the same. They are straightforward and to the point; embellished only enough to make my point, to bring out the best in them - to make them sing. There are no grand stories behind them, no operas, no ethereal or philosophical explanations or comparisons. My images are of objects - things - that, when they were presented to me, “spoke” to me saying “pick me, pick me”.
I look for these things until they find me, and when I am found a little bell rings. And the louder the ring the louder it has “spoken“ to me and the more I respond. Sometimes I procrastinate, put off my response - sometimes for a long time. But it doesn’t matter; the voice may become dormant but it never goes away and returns time and again until it makes itself heard. I don’t profess to understand.
In my photographs I search for both the simplicity and the complexity created by form, shape, texture and particularly colour and the beauty that is created when everything comes together as a visual whole. I usually find this beauty buried in the details that are most often overlooked. These “details” are what make that “something” you're looking at what it is.
Capturing with the camera what I see in my mind’s eye is the challenge. When on location attention to detail - first in composition, then in selecting the optimum exposure to produce an image that is both artistically pleasing and technically correct, is paramount. In the studio the decisions on how to light the subject adds an additional level of complexity. In both instances the photographs are treated to tweaking and finessing to make the final image the best it can be.
My goal is to unveil this subdued beauty, to engage you and help you think more about what you see. Ultimately, I want you to enjoy more fully what surrounds you.
My photographs are my music and all of my images strike a chord in me. I hope you enjoy my music.
- sightlines - The Ice House Gallery, Tatamagouche, NS; May 2022
- DUALITY - SIDE TWO - From the Studio - ViewPoint Gallery, Bedford, NS; August 2021
- DUALITY - SIDE ONE - Abstract / Conceptual - ViewPoint Gallery, Bedford, NS; July 2021
- Elements: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire - Bear River ARTworks Gallery, Bear River, NS; Group show - February 2020
- Out of Context - Hardware Gallery, Kentville, NS; May 2019
- See like me 2... Sackville Public Library, Sackville, NS; June 2019
- A Show of Respect - Marigold Centre, Truro, NS; Group show - June 2019
- See like me... - Gallery 1919, Halifax, NS; July 2018
- Colours of the Earth - ViewPoint Gallery, Halifax, NS; May 2018
- New Points 2018 - ViewPoint Gallery, Halifax, NS; Group show - January 2018
- Blue: Inspired by Picasso - Round Hill Gallery, Annapolis Royal, NS; Group show - January 2018
- The Beginning- Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS; November 2017