Silent Stages Artist’s Statement

I want to amass the right mix of ingredients to spark the idea of a story, not one that I’ve imagined but stories that viewers conjure up on their own, unresolved narratives laced with mystery, alienation and maybe even a touch of evil. That’s why I want the lighting to be dramatic, why I shoot in black and white, why my images often include elements that are too dark and/or fuzzy to see clearly.

I start with the background, searching the streets for a suitably dramatic setting, one that offers sharp, angular shapes, stark lighting and at least a hint of mystery. I’m seeking a background that could almost be a painted backdrop, a silent movie set, with balsa wood props fabricated and arranged for this specific scene.

Once the background is set, I wait for something to happen, perhaps for players to enter or exit, to strut and fret onto the set for a fleeting moment. Frozen on stage, back-, front- or hardly lit at all, I want to capture the instant as each silently recites a fragment of a tale. On occasion, I arrive too late; the last player has exited, the action is finished, leaving behind only the memory of a shadow.

I’ve been influenced and inspired by moviemakers such as Orson Welles and Fritz Lang and painters including Edward Hopper and Georges de la Tour. The photographers whose work has had the greatest impact on me include the French humanists, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, and Harry Callahan, especially his French Archives images shot in the bright sunlight of Aix-en-Provence.