My experience with black-and-white photography dates back to my college years at Virginia Commonwealth University where photojournalism was one of the required courses in the school of mass communications. My dear friend and mentor, Jim Bratt, loaned me his Canon AE1 and I was off to the races my senior year, capturing texture, light, street scenes, events and self-portraits among other assignments. I really enjoyed the course, learning not only how to take pictures but how to make them ... in a dark room. (Image: "Keep Coming Back" / 2016 / My homage to master black-and-white photographer Ray Metzger, 1931-2014)
After college (class of '86) I moved to New York City and was completely immersed in a career in public relations. There might have been time for photography but on a $30,000 annual salary I could not afford the film and developing expenses. (I've said many times that I survived those first few years on Rice-A-Roni, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and the benevolence of my Brooklyn landlords, Jack and Vincenza Fondacaro, and that's the truth.)
The first time I ever held a camera that I owned was in 2006 when a friend lured me to the Staples on Eighth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen and persuaded me to buy the floor model of a Kodak digital camera that was on sale for half price. It didn't take long for me to realize how much I had missed taking pictures just for the sheer joy of it. I was just starting to get the hang of shooting digitally when my camera was stolen. I hardly skipped a beat. There was a camera function on my Galaxy phone and I basically wore it out, taking over 140,000 pictures. The settings allowed me to shoot in black-and-white and that became my default.
The day after that phone died in 2014, the receptionist at my therapist's office said she had a Canon point-and-shoot she never used and she'd like to give it to me. I couldn't believe my luck. It wasn't but a few months after that when a professional photographer and good friend, Joey Garcia, loaned me his Canon G11 ... "A real camera," he called it. I was possessed by the photography spirits by this time, and while the pace of my shooting slowed a little, the intensity of my determination to improve just got stronger and stronger. Every time I saw Joe he'd look at my latest images, offer me pointers, and send me on my way with a familiar refrain ... "Keep shootin'!"
And keep shootin' is exactly what I've done. The images that follow are a mix of works captured on each of the aforementioned cameras plus my new prized instrument, a Sony Alpha 6000 purchased for me by a dear friend who has followed my work and came forward with an unbelievably generous offer in early 2015. To her, Joey Garcia, Will Burdick, Rob Edelstein, Vicente Ramos and the late T.J. Worthington I will be eternally grateful. My gratitude also extends to every one of you who've offered your support and encouragement along this beautiful journey that has become my passion. I hope you enjoy this work. You all helped make it possible. -- Rob