Russell Monson

 I have always had a fascination with photography, having wanted a camera from my teen years. With a background in the Physical Sciences and an interest in technology, the interest grew with the move from analogue (film) to digital. In the early days I didn’t think of photography as ‘art’, but sharing the interests in photography with my wife, Carol, introduced me to the world of composition and more creative images.

 

After purchasing my first film camera in 1972, I moved to digital in 2003, and most recently to a mirrorless camera. Of course capturing the image is only part of the story. I also gain a great deal of satisfaction from printing my own images. From the conventional dark room, mixing chemicals and developing negatives and prints in the family bathroom and laundry, I now enjoy the relative simplicity of processing and printing from the computer. While I think of myself as a photographer, the capabilities of modern cameras, including high quality video, have caused a growing trend to refer to photographers as ‘imagemakers’.

 

Like many areas of endeavor, you can learn a lot from other exponents of the skill. In my case, I have not only learnt a lot from Carol as we work together, but I also read widely, have the opportunity to work alongside some talented photographers in the Warragul Camera Club, and attend short workshops to explore particular areas of interest. More recently I have been studying the Advanced Diploma of Photography at the Photography Studies College in Melbourne. There is also a great deal of online training in photography … the challenge is filtering the quality of the courses.

 

As my understanding of photography develops from both formal and informal education, I believe I have developed a more extensive ‘visual literacy’, and consequently explored a wider variety of photographic styles and developed a deeper understanding of image design. I have become fascinated by symbolism employed in Flemish still life (both in painting and photography), and photography from the early to mid 20th century, championed by Ansell Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

 

Learning more about the art of photography has changed my style, often depending on the purpose. In my case photography has ranged from capturing holiday ‘snaps’ to recording memories of our family as the children grew up, and more recently treating photography as a legitimate art form. That’s not to say that I don’t take holiday photos, or family photos, but I like to think that the compositions are now more thoughtful and deliberate. I’m currently gaining a great deal of satisfaction with double exposures created in camera, and printed in monochrome.

My most satisfying work has evolved from having a project (or folio) to develop, and after settling on a theme, the inspiration often comes as a result of a literature search. The literature search would usually include photographers who have worked in that genre, but also often includes reference to other two dimensional art forms, most typically painting but also drawing and print making.


 

Most recently I have photographed cowsheds in our area and applied the technique of in camera double exposure to these images. Some of these images have been submitted to a club competition which will lead to an exhibition that is a collaboration between painter, Phil Henshall, and the Warragul Camera Club. This will take place in Phil’s studio in Rokeby later this year.

As a photographer, there is probably only one thing more satisfying than exhibiting a print, and that’s when the print wins a prize. Together with regular entries in the Warragul Camera Club’s monthly competitions, I have entered and had images accepted into accredited ‘National’ photographic competitions in Victoria and interstate, as well as internationally. Outside the ‘camera club’ community, I have also entered, won prizes, and sold images in the Ficifolia Art Show, the Inverloch Art Show and the Phillip Island / San Remo Rotary Art Show. A couple of images have been selected as finalists in competitions conducted by photographic magazines. Carol and I have held joint exhibitions at the Redtree Gallery (Jindivick) and the Meeniyan Art Gallery, and I have participated in Warragul Camera Club exhibitions at the Ballarat Foto