Brigitte Carnochan

American Photographer | Born: 1941
From www.modernbook.com
Artist Statement:
Despite the debates over "honesty" and "truth" in photography, it is an intrinsically subjective art and form of communication. The photographer has chosen, from a huge range of images, certain ones - or pieces - from a certain perspective, with the light at a certain angle and at a unique moment in time. And the "story" in the photograph begins with the photographer's decision of when to click the shutter and isn't completed until each viewer interprets that image in his or her own way. The qualities that have fascinated me and led me to make a particular photograph are usually quite intuitive. I generally don't have a completed concept in my mind when I begin--I move things around, change angles, lighting--until everything seems right. To further complicate issues of "truth," I often add color to a black and white image in order to bring out, most convincingly, the impression it has made on me--and I have no concern about whether the colors are the "real" colors. In documentary photography the same subjective issues apply--but realizing and recording the "right" moment requires quicker reflexes and a different kind of intuition. Sensing a moment coming by keenly observing the scene--and always being ready for that moment--is the excitement in that kind of photography. All of my images begin as straight gelatin silver prints, but in my nudes and floral still lifes, I am often drawn to hand coloring on several counts. First in literature and now in photography, I have been interested in the power of the imagination--how it colors everyday life - creates, in fact, private views of experience, whether revealed in words or in images. Even though most people see the world in color, they do not see everything in the same exact colors. From an optical point of view, the colors we see depend on where we stand in relation to the object, where the sun is on the horizon, what color the walls are, or the tint of our glasses (or contact lenses), and so on. From a psychological point of view--everything depends on whether we are worried, elated, anxious, in love, lonely, distracted, or fully alert. For this reason, I often hand color my work, because the process allows me to interpret the essence of my subject according to my own imagination. Whether it is nudes and flowers or the black and white images in my series from Cuba, Africa, or Mexico, imagination colors--literally and figuratively--not only what I see initially, but what the viewer sees, ultimately. And seeing, of course, is everything in photography: seeing--and light and shadow. Beginning in 2007, I am continuing to paint gelatin silver images, but I am also scanning the first copy in each new painted edition (now limited to 25) and creating small limited editions of archival pigment prints* in three sizes. The level of current technology makes me confident that these digitally printed images will not only render the original painted photograph faithfully, but will, like the original, last over time.
Brigitte Carnochan


All about Brigitte Carnochan:

AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
It sneaked up on me! I've been making photographs my entire life—especially portraits—and then in 1989 I took a darkroom class at a local junior college. I don't even remember why I did it--curiosity I suppose. That was it. I was hooked. I was working full time at Stanford University and over the next five years I realized I had to quit my job and pursue photography full time because otherwise I would be too sleep-deprived from trying to pursue two careers.

AAP: Where did you study photography?
I took a number of classes at Foothill Junior College in the Bay Area from a very fine teacher and photographer named Steve Kiser. He is a perfectionist and his courses gave me a fantastic grounding in technical skills as well as insights into aesthetics. I also took workshops from various people I admired. It seemed so liberating after getting a BA, MA, and PhD with very strict course requirements—William Albert Allard, Mary Ellen Mark, Morley Baer, John Sexton, Ruth Bernhard, Cole Weston, Ted Orland, and David Bayles.

AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
I received a Brownie Hawkeye camera for my 10th birthday. Unfortunately, my cat had just had kittens, so pretty much the entire first roll of film was kittens. However, I did take one rather arty shot of my friends from the top of a jungle gym--they were looking up and I was shooting straight down. Perhaps that's as edgy as I've ever gotten! My style is rather classical.

AAP: What or who inspires you?
Two things important to my life are my fine art inspirations—dancing and gardening. My nude models are usually friends and acquaintances from dance classes and my flowers and fruits are usually ones I've grown in my garden. But I can't be in a garden—any garden—without being inspired to make photographs. We just came home from visiting cousins in Somersetl England--they have a fabulous garden and that wonderful overcast sky—a perfect set-up for me.

AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
I began with a Olympus OM1 and Tri-X films. Then a Hasselblad and 80 mm and 120 mm lenses (still Tri-X). I worked up to a Sinar 4x5 and Polaroid PN film. I finally began using a Nikon D70 digital camera for family snapshots about 2005. When the Canon Mark EOS 1D came out, I tried it but didn't trust the printers enough to switch my professional work to digital. It wasn't until 2007 that I began making a few digital prints that I sold. Mostly, I was still printing silver in my darkroom. And then painting the images with oils.

AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
I don't shoot hundreds of images. I still shoot pretty much like a film photographer because I really hate to spend hours at the computer going through files. I've done that a few times after a long trip—like the one I took to China in 2005. But it was agony. I work alone, so I'm forced to budget my time carefully.

AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
Don't give up your day job! There are so many photographers now. Many more than when I started in 1990. And very talented recent graduates are looking for work, for recognition, for galleries, sales. And they keep looking. I fell into the gallery world pretty much by accident and I've been very lucky. But I think it's a much harder path to follow now.

AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?
Well, as I mentioned, I've just come back from England (and Scotland). Julia Margaret Cameron was a wonderfully inventive and daring (really!) photographer. And bossy and gutsy. In 1863 one didn't just point and shoot—a lot of physical labor was involved in making first a plate and then a print. Cameron and I share a passion for beauty. She apparently said, "I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied." I completely understand and concur with that ambition.
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Myth and the Natural World
Author: Brigitte Carnochan
Publisher: SENSU Publications
Year: 2014 - Pages: 32
Myth and the Natural World" is a unique collection of still life images and nude figure studies alluding to Greek myths. The catalog features 30 full color reproductions of Carnochan's painted gelatin silver prints combining the virtues of photography and painting to create rich, sensuous images.
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

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