Rick Raphael

Photographic Background

I began the study of photography in 1966 while a student at Franklin and Marshall College. Art history, drawing and painting were part of my curriculum. During this period I began making still photographs and also started working in motion pictures which both of which helped me to develop a technical background in photographic processes. After graduation in 1969 I began full time work in lighting and photography for films. I also began making large format (8x10 and 4x5) black and white still photographs. My primary fine art interests were landscapes, clouds, and figure studies. Because of my background in the motion picture industry, I bring a wide range of experience in many different types of photography from commercial to fine art to my current work.

Early and strong photographic influences came from the “f64” school of photography, mainly Stieglitz, Weston, Adams, and White as well as contemporary photographers like Dick Avedon and Helmut Newton. During this period I began formulating my own developers to obtain tonal ranges that were no longer obtainable with commercial developing compounds. The images were contact printed the full size of the negative. From time to time I exhibited my work at various small galleries in and around New York City, my home for many years. In 1977 I was invited to pursue a course of study with Minor White at MIT, however, business and family commitments precluded my accepting his generous offer to further my work.

I began experimenting with color in 1978 making large format, in-camera color separations that I printed using the dye transfer technique. This painstaking process allowed a tremendous degree of control over the hues and saturation in the final image but the subject matter was limited to still life. It eventually became apparent that color still photography at the time was primarily a commercial process that did not allow the control of the image at a price that was within the reach of most fine art photographers.

This frustration with available color processes led me to abandon my previous work and concentrate my efforts for the next twenty years in motion picture photography. I worked primarily as a Steadicam operator in this time, combining the mechanics of camera stabilization with the fluidity of hand held photography. This ballet with a camera requires the ability to continually create strong compositions on the fly and the work was exciting. I was privileged during this period to work on such films as “Awakenings”, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, “Goodfellas”, “The Ice Storm” and over 130 other projects.

Within the past several years there has been a sea change in the world of photography as a result of the digital techniques that are now available. Extremely high resolution color printers, digital imaging and software tools for controlling these images allow a degree of control over the photograph that was unthinkable twenty years ago. Recognizing the possibilities I realized that my dreams of a color imaging process that I could control and afford were within my reach. The pictures that you see are the fruits of that realization.

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