A Sequence for Dave Williams – Desert Plant*, 1987

Platinum-palladium print one Fabriano 5, from original 8×10 negative

The nature of influence is cyclic, and full of surprise and synchrony. I will never forget the sense of wonder and promise I felt on seeing George Tice’s demonstration of the platinum printing process in the ‘Life Library of Photography’ series. As my research into the process got underway in 1980, his name kept coming up repeatedly — in Nancy Rexroth’s ‘The Platinotype – 1977’ (Formulary Press, Missoula, MT), in conversations with conservators, chemists and curators, in exhibitions. His landscape work from the early 1960’s struck me as being particularly suitable to what I envisioned as the ideal platinum print.

George Tice, ‘Selected Photographs 1953-1999’, David R. Godine, 2001

Card accompanying the book, from Ron Evans

Last week, and some 30 years later, George Tice’s work arrived in the form of a gift and inscribed book from a friend. Ron Evan’s and I have corresponded for almost the same amount of time (correct me if I am wrong Ron!). Astonishing. He is a remarkable, and persistent, photographer who now lives in Charlottesville , VA. We have never met, but his steadfast vision and our occasional but steady exchange by mail (yes, mostly that paper-and-envelope kind) has frequently helped me realign and recalibrate my work. I hope a publisher will consider putting out a monograph of his someday soon.

And over this same period, another friend has been a steady, quiet, light in my work. Dave Williams and I met in Edinburgh as colleagues at what was then Napier College. His work resonates in me. Always. I made the ‘Desert Plant’ image as a part of a get-well-soon series during the late 1980’s.

All three photographers have this in common: they give me a steady reference point, a cynosure (this word as used by Thoreau was itself first brought to my awareness by a student at Napier College—I wish I could remember his name), a way of reoreinting myself when I get sidetracked by faddish and gadfly attitudes.

*This photograph was made in Ron Partridge‘s studio in Berkley, CA—another post on the nature of his influence on me is forthcoming.