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Meet Joel Brown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joel Brown.

Joel, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have lived in Southern California most of my life. I studied photography in the early 70’s while enrolled at Cypress College, and in 1993, I studied under the tutelage of John Sexton for an intensive workshop in the Southwest. Later that same year and again in 1996 I was fortunate to study under Cole Weston in Garrapata, near Carmel California. In 2012 I was honored to be asked by Jock Sturges to assist him during his ’Rollie Project” in Hollywood, CA.

I’ve had a career-long love of the process of shooting and developing images using large format cameras. Even though I have had some experience with digital photography, I find that I still prefer to visualize and capture an image on film, as well as develop and print in the traditional wet darkroom. Gelatin silver prints remain my great passion as far as a printing medium goes.

I envision continuing to work in film, processing my images myself, for as long as the materials are available. Much of my commitment to photography is tied to the traditional, chemistry-based process, and I find it hard to describe myself as a photographer without including this component into that definition. With a little luck, I will be able to continue to do so.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
After experimenting for the first few years to find a suitable match of chemicals, film, and paper, I continued with that combination for the next 20 years. I was never one to chase the magic bullet. The advent of digital photography, however, has eclipsed the use of film as a photographic medium, and therefore affected the availability of much of the materials I have been accustomed to using. I find myself in the interesting position of experimenting all over again with the film and paper combinations still available in order to get the contrast and tonal range I most prefer.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I shoot exclusively black and white film, and my two camera formats are 120 and 8×10 film. My passion leans mostly toward portraits and nudes. I have been exhibiting at the Pageant of the Masters/Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach Ca. for the past six years. My most current project is photographing people over 50 years old, clothed and unclothed. My original idea was to capture the subject in natural light outdoors, but it has become somewhat of a problem finding suitable locations that are both safe and aesthetically pleasing. I am now using the safety and comfort of the studio for that project.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I will continue to photograph people, places and things I find compelling. Others, I will admire, and enjoy, but not necessarily photograph.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Photograph of Joel by Taffy Van Calcar.

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