In honoring the Stonewall riots 50 years ago, Harvey Milk Photo Center in San Francisco is currently showing a special exhibit, showcasing work by local artists, focusing on celebrating the LGBTQ community.
Hi Thomas, please introduce yourself in to our community real quick and tell us about your work in general.
My interest, or intent in photography is to look past the obvious, to closely observe and find a way to connect to my subject. Making a photograph is an attempt to capture a moment, an impression, an emotion that you can never fully depict. I only draw outlines, using the light reflections. The authenticity of the photographic picture lies in this inherent imperfection. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to feel and see beyond the outlines of the world around them. I love telling stories through photography and I love having the shapes and colors immerse the viewer.
Can you tell a little bit about the stories behind your two photographs which are included in the exhibition?
The first one with the flag-bearer and the rainbow dress drag-queen following shows a step-father and his son. In the background we can see an older couple that looks away and seems a little uninterested although the whole loud and proud CSD parade is coming along the street.
The second one with the kissing couple on the bench has a little more of a subtle histroical context. It was shoot in front of the public toilette in a park. And this park used to a secret meeting spot for homosexual men whereas nowadays it is the location of the annual CSD party where diversity is openly celebrated. So I like this historic context in the picture.
Why do you shoot on film our digital age?
There are actually several reasons for me to go for analog photography. First, I learned it that way and I know exactly what I get from a certain film stock in terms of characteristics and performance. The other main reason is that my medium format gear is quite good and gives me a very high resolution with fine grain film, given good lighting. However I also have a digital camera that I use for certain situations - especially indoors and low light. But most of my shooting is analog 35mm as well as medium format. And I also develop the film myself, so I can see my results pretty fast if I want to.
How did you get your photos into the exhibit?
The Harvey Milk Photo Center features a broad spectrum of local as well as international artists. The fact that my pictures have been selected by the jury make me very proud and thankful. There is lots of other great work in the show that runs until July 21st! So if you’re in San Francisco go see it.
The Harvey Milk Photo Center is the place to be for anyone interested in photography (especially analog) in San Francisco and the bay area. As far as I know they have the largest darkroom in the USA, lots of professional equipment and a extremely interesting curriculum of photography classes that cover everything from wet-plate to digital post-production.
The exhibition is honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Do you have a personal connection with this historic event?
Being gay myself I am very aware of Stonewall as one of the important milestones on the way to freedom and equality for the LGBTQ community. There have been many other milestones and riots but it’s certainly the most famous one. I am very thankful and I look back with great respect for the courage and achievements of the generations before us. Theres is still so many places in the world where having a Christopher Street Day parade is completely unthinkable. So looking back at those events might teach us something for the way still ahead of us.
The exhibition is running through July 21st and open to the public:
Tuesday - Thursday 3pm - 9:30pm,
Saturday 10am - 5:30pm
Sunday 11am - 5:30pm
at the Harvey Milk Photo Center 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA 94117.