I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by "Don Arturo" - the great photographer Arthur Meyerson - for his workshop alumni website. The Don is an incredible photographer, a great teacher and just lots of fun to be around. If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with him - do it!! The body of that interview follows:
A.M. Alumni Interview Questionnaire
AM: Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
AEW: Well, currently I am busy ruling my little corner of the world. I’d like to say it is a place where peace and harmony reign, but that’s not so true. What is true is that 14 months ago I leased studio space in a building in downtown Indianapolis that rents space to artists and have dedicated what I have left of my faculties to attempting to make this passion pay.
AM: Where/when did you first develop your interest in photography?
AEW: Would you believe I first picked up a camera to earn a badge in girl scouts? Now that’s true. I got hooked early because my father was a hobbyist and was greatly enamored of the Family of Man exhibit that Steichen curated for MOMA in 1955. His catalog from that exhibit was always on our coffee table when I was growing up. Those images still inform what I shoot today. I’ve looked at them so often, it’s like they are part of me.
AM: Of all the art forms in the world, why photography?
AEW: Can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t draw…can see.
AM: What approach do you take to photography?
AEW: Sadly – lazy and disorganized. I wish I had a better structure and had a plan, but I don’t and never have, and probably never will. BUT, I live next door to an incredible seven-acre garden which was created over the last 30 years by a man with a PhD in botany and who is a past president of the American Horticultural Society. I don’t have to go far to celebrate the glories of nature.
AM: How often do you photograph?
AEW: It varies. Sometimes multiple times a day and sometimes not for a while – and then I start getting grumpy and unpleasant to be around – so I grab my camera and head outside. Then I lose myself in a field for hours at a time and all is right with the world again.
AM: Other than workshops, have you had any formal training in photography?
AEW: Yes. I took two courses in photography as electives while majoring in liberal arts in college (ages ago). Then with the conversion to digital I took some additional courses at the Indianapolis Art Center – where I am now on the faculty teaching macro – and also some courses at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art here in Indianapolis.
AM: What is your favorite genre of photography?
AEW: I find myself very drawn to black and white right now – maybe because of the early influence of the images in the Family of Man catalog – and am itching to shoot more. I have spent the last year or so shooting a lot of macro in the garden, so maybe that’s just a reaction to so much color whirling around in my head and studio, but that’s what I like the most.
AM: What inspires you or where do you seek inspiration?
AEW: I love looking at other people’s work and trying to analyze how they did what they did or what made them shoot that angle or subject. Many images are beautiful and perfect just as they are. Many others are miniature psychological studies. But, other than that, it is knowing that each one of us sees the world differently and for some reason I am compelled to collect and print how it is that I see. I guess I am providing fodder for someone else’s psychological study….
AM: Who do you most admire (past or present) and why or who’s art do you admire?
AEW: I admire Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange as they were out there killing it when most women were home dusting the white picket fences. But, truthfully, if I can ever shoot an image as luminous as your “Red Hat, Montana” I will die a happy woman.
AM: What is your greatest personal achievement?
AEW: Getting out of bed in the morning.
AM: Name somewhere and/or someone you’d love to photograph?
AEW: I’ve never had an urge to do portraiture – though I do like to dabble a bit in street photography, as people when they are unguarded are endlessly fascinating. But it is the natural world that grips me the most. I want to go back to New Zealand and spend months combing those beautiful islands. They are incredible and I didn’t have enough time there.
AM: Do you have a favorite photography book?
AEW: Well, the Family of Man from 1955 is epic for me, but also the Jump Book and the Whitney Retrospective that was published in the 1970s. All are dog-earred and well worn here.
AM: What do you collect?
AEW: Empty wine bottles.
AM: What is your most valuable possession?
AEW: Farm and woodlands that has been in my family since 1804.
AM: If you were to invite 1‐5 personalities for a dinner conversation, who would they be?
AEW: I don’t have to cook, do I? I’d start with Albert Schweitzer, after that maybe Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper. Joseph Campbell, Beryl Markham and Dorothy Parker. Wouldn’t that be a fun conversation?
AM: Aside from photography, what is your favorite pastime?
AEW: See answer to question above about what I collect…..
AM: What camera and equipment do you use?
AEW: I am currently shooting a Canon 6D – which I love. My most used lens is the 24-105L f.4, and the Tamron 90 macro f2.8. I am probably going to be making the leap to mirrorless this year as the weight of the gear is getting to be an issue for me and am eyeing both the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Fuji XT1. (Who comes up with these names?!)
AM: What is/ are your goals in photography?
AEW: To pay the rent on the studio every month and to produce images that make my heart sing.
AM: Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
AEW: Hey! A girl has to have SOME secrets!
AM: Do you have a website or some other place we can we see more of your pictures?
AEW: Aw geez – I do, but it is terribly out of date. This past weekend was the annual open house at the studios and we get something like 7,000 people coming through over Friday night and Saturday afternoon, so I’ve been in panic mode preparing for that. (Fellow AM alum Roberta Roth came down from Minneapolis to help me and got drafted to shoot the event when the volunteer photog bailed at the last minute. Thank you, Roberta!!)
The month of May is recovery time and I will be editing and adding new images to the site which is www.EmisonImages.com. I also have an Emison Images Facebook page, but I don’t really post much work there as no-one has conclusively decided what the ownership rights are when something is posted.
I’m also going to include this link - http://www.stutzartists.com/about.html - about the building where my studio is located. It is where the Stutz Bearcats were made almost 100 years ago. Studios range from 300 sq ft to over 5,000 sq ft and it is just an incredible place to be. Lots or collaborations are born, ideas stolen and mischief conceived in those halls.
For the First Friday show at Indiana Landmarks, I will be presenting new work that has not been shown before. The show is titled 'Elements' and will feature my images as well as 3D works by Myra Risley Perrin.
Also on tap for this summer is a new project based on work I have done for Emily's Dream. I will be creating a set of floral images in small scale - the 6x6 canvas wraps - and have the images cover the entire color spectrum. I hope to have this mounted in my studio at the Stutz before the end of the summer.
I am sure that I will make some discoveries while teaching at the Indianapolis Art Center in June and July. It will be a lot of fun to lead a group of people down this path of macro. I know we'll all discover new things!
I am teaching a class on macro photography at the Indianapolis Art Center. The class will be repeated in the Spring.
A small number of images will be on display at the end of the month at the Vincennes Art Guild space in Vincennes, IN.
As of October 9th, I can be found in Suite A315 - four doors down from my current studio in Suite A365. The very talented Myra Risley Perrin will be sharing the space with me. Anyone who caught the June/July show at Indiana Landmarks knows how well our work complimented each others, so we've decided to share a studio and work on a few collaborations.