The Beguiling Photography of Henry Garciga
View some of Henry Garciga's photosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Why not buy a photography book
Garciga’s photos may startle or amuse
Anyone who has read my articles on Hubpages.com may have noticed that some of the photos I’ve used are provided by photographer Henry Garciga. The following lines will provide a first person narrative of this photographer extraordinaire:
It’s a twist of fate to have been born in Newark, New Jersey, but since the age of two I have resided in and am a fully developed product of Los Angeles, California.
Years ago, Cerritos City College attracted my interest for two semesters. I had moved away from home at 18 and remained employed and independent thereafter. Then my restless spirit somehow guided me to adventures of cross-country travel simply because I had the opportunity. This is where my education became expansive as I ventured into a daily unknown set of circumstances.
But I eventually obtained a bachelor's degree in anthropology from California State University at Sacramento (CSUS). While I think about the good points in having a degree in anthropology (with a specialty in Mesoamerica, by the way) one factor jumps to the front of my brain: there are no support groups for this class of under-employed college graduates!
Moving on, my interest in the magic of photography was sparked by an Instamatic snapshot I took of my friend John Falserano. While taking the shot in his recording studio, a figure on a wall poster "inserted" itself into the photo, showing a realism that sparked the magic of how a photo can fool the eye. Shortly thereafter, I was on the street trying to get my Renault started when someone tried to sell me a 35mm Canon. I ended up trading the car for the camera and this fortuitous event cemented my lifelong relationship with photography.
While working as a graphic arts cameraman for many years in Los Angeles, I processed in the darkroom every type of film, except color. The darkroom was my playground where I experimented constantly and was able to extend the medium beyond simple enlarging and printing.
Using the 35mm camera to produce over 20,000 negatives and slides, the transition to digital took several years. Finally I concluded that the quality of digital was sufficient to replace film. I was also impressed by the enormous savings from never having to buy film or pay for processing ever again!
In my opinion, however, the black and white darkroom is still the premiere tonal image maker, yet the convenience of digital photography and the portability of its processing allow hundreds of images to flow creatively without worrying about changing film or lenses. Moreover, the advent of digital photography has unleashed a creative energy in me that marks the beginnging of a golden age for my photographer’s instinct.
Whatever my photographic process, throughout my life Jerry Uelsmann has inspired me with his darkroom skills. I also greatly admire Henri Cartier Bresson, as well as the “Great Weegee” Lewis Hine, for the social impact of his photos of children working in dangerous jobs. I also love the work of Richard Avedon for his straightforward portraits of famous people. My list of favorite photographers it too long to mention here, but each has unique strengths in the medium.
Regarding special effects, I employ them selectively, and with the advent of numerous digital darkroom tools, these effects are almost exclusively confined to my night photography.
As a lover of the black and white process, I have shot black-and-white infrared several times and am amazed by its heat-signature qualities. However, it is not an easy process to master. I can only say that my favorite photos will always be in black and white. Much as I enjoy color, the black-and-white darkroom and the fiber-based paper I use for such photography yields the finest examples of the medium.
I'd just like to add here that the most important aspect of photography, in general, is its use as a tool for improving and stimulating memory, as well as providing a pathway for one’s visual acuity. The type of images the brain interprets within that “framed” rectangle gives insight into how our unique personalities regard the vast visual world we photographers find interesting.
Photography also reflects, over time, a maturing intelligence and provides a tool for exploring the genius within all of us, capturing moments that words often fall short of explaining or describing. It is, in fact, a wholly separate language with universal recognition - a signature tool that, for me, often reflects my individual intelligence. Further, when I look at my photos from 20 years ago, I see the growth of ideas and improved technical skills - and all of them have received a giant bounce in the digital darkroom!
Thanks for reading, Henry Garciga
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