VoLUME 12, NUMbER 2
ed Orland talks about his work at 7 p.m., Oct. 28,
at this all’s PhotoMidwest. He is also oering a
Embracing the Plastic Camera
, 7–10 p.m.
Oct. 29, and 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 30: see PMW’s
website to register. ed graciously consented to
an interview with CPM. Many thanks to Patricia
Delker or helping rame these questions.
1. You made a giant leap proessionally when you
exchanged a large ormat camera on a tripodor a Holga you carry everywhere. Do you see
the world diferently, as a result?
I think that as artists we’d all like to
work with tools that eel like a naturalextension o our own spirit—that see
the world the way we do, so to speak.Tat doesn’t always happen instantly
or easily—at least it didn’t in my case.I jumped into photography by taking
an Ansel Adams Workshop, and not
surprisingly spent the next several years making large-ormat B&W
Adamsonian landscapes. It took me
years to realize that I really don’t lead a
fne-grained lie—that ar more oen
lie was whooshing right past me while
I was trying to set up my tripod.
Discovering the Holga changed that
equation. You see an entirely dierent
world thru a plastic viewfnder than on a4" × 5" ground glass. Where larger cameras
lead you to work careully and precisely, Holgas
encourage you to shoot frst and ask questions later.
And where view camera users embrace the clarity
and limitless detail o real things, Holga users revel
in the uzzy ambiance o ephemeral moments. At
least metaphorically, the question to ask might be:
is your world flled with nouns, or verbs?
2. Has your work changed since you began
employing a scanner?
Every technical change brings artistic consequences,
revealing new possibilities even as it closes the
door on previously available options. In my case, Iclosed my printing darkroom nearly ten years ago,
and since then have scanned all my new Holga
negatives into the computer to prepare them or
All things considered, the advantages o ollowing that technical pathway have vastly outweighed thedrawbacks. I continue to make pictures in the feld
just as I always have, but now have a wonderul
range o new artistic options lining the way romthere to the fnished print.
Aer thirty years as a B&W photographer, or
instance, I’m now able to work with color flm
(a technology I previously avoided because o its toxicity and expense). Likewise, I can nowmake much larger (and better!) prints than I
ever could in the darkroom, and choose rom a
vastly wider range o paper suraces. I can also
montage individual rames and assemble intricate
multi-image panoramas—a eat that would be
utterly impossible (at least or me) to achieve in
the darkroom. And though it’s not a large part o
my work, I love having the option o manipulating
borders, adding type, and removing occasional
telephone poles rom people’s heads.
3. What motivated you to write
Art & Fear
Can you tell us a bit about how you regard
art production now?
About twenty years ago my riend David Bayles
invited me to collaborate with him on a project he
was initiating to write about the obstacles artists ace
in trying to get their work done. David & I are both
working artists ourselves, and initially we viewed this
mainly as a way to clariy our thoughts on topics we
requently engaged with students at photography workshops. As a spino beneft it also provided a
fne excuse or getting together or spirited debates
over long dinners (and ormidable quantities o cheap
zinandel). Well, time passed, and eventually we
realized that we’d generated almost enough material
to call it a “book”—and indeed, three or our
Art & Fear
rolled o the presses.
I don’t think a lot has changed or artists
since then (even though the photographic
marketplace and the number o
aspiring photographic artists has grown
dramatically). One thing that has changed,
however, is the overall awareness o the
challenges acing artists. When
appeared on the scene it was the only
book o its kind—in act it was rejected
by the frst two publishers we approached
because they couldn’t fgure out where it
would possibly ft on bookstore shelves.
Now, however, there’s a whole category in
some bookstores devoted to “Creativity”.
4. Can you say something about the role
o photo clubs/support groups, and
their helpulness to you, personally?
I’m a big an o artists’ support groups. As a
generalization I think they’re oen most valuable
to people who work in non-art-related felds and
would otherwise have little contact with the art world,
and to younger artists who have le school and eel
like they’ve stepped into an artistic vacuum. Tat
said, I do currently belong to three nearby artistsgroups, each o which meets locally on a more-or-less monthly basis. My own personal motivation
is mostly just to enjoy the comaraderie o kindredspirits and to share stories with my ellow travelersin photography. Simply put, being part o a group
keeps me engaged with the outside world—le
to mysel I’d probably just curl up in a ball in my
studio and lead a completely hermit-like existence!
iNTERViEw wiTh TEd oRLANd
Tree, Merced River, Winter, #2