An interview with Richard L. Young follows the exhibit images
It’s said that contemporary art is an acquired taste. True enough but taking a pass on work simply because you don’t like it, doesn’t float. In my experiences, it may entail not understanding the artist’s intent, interpretation or even their process . Sometimes a combination of all three! When I first viewed Richard’s work on a FaceBook photo sharing site I took ‘that pass’— mistaking the work simply as a Photoshop ‘layer-stacking’ technique.
Later while taking a closer look within VSONOMA posts, I learned his work was created through multiple exposures. Up to sixteen of ‘em within a single frame! Moving his eye and ‘trigger finger’ across land, sea and industrial ‘scapes’ is to my eye, simultaneously both a deconstruction and an extended examination of the scene. A result that morphs into a orchestrated symphony of Richard's self-described 'controlled chaos'. In short, I find the work impressionistic, contemporary and endlessly interesting!
There’s another art appreciation saying as well - never trust your ‘first impression. Usually easier said than done. Richard’s interview/artist statement below eloquently builds on a premise of requiring a linear sequence of reevaluations when viewing his work. On a personal front, my ‘third impression’ sees an original vision of fine-art opportunity and expression. Enjoy the show!
— Mark Wegner
VSONOMA: Welcome Richard, could you tell us a little about yourself and the exhibit at VSonoma?
I tend to be an internal person. I observe. Therefore, I don’t always listen to the cacophonous din around me. This show reveals a bit of how I see my world. How I find symbolisms to explain the fear and anxiety that so many have. Some of the pieces are my ‘political voice’. Isn’t Art supposed to do that?
VSONOMA: How did you initially get interested in Photography?
With a chuckle, I would say it goes back to my first camera given to me at a very very young age. It was a Kodak Brownie. I’m sure I invented the ‘selfie’. I was so curious looking into the lens when I would snap the shutter. My folks, who had very limited means, eventually stopped buying film. I still would take imaginary photos for a while. As Polish/German descendants of immigrants, they were very literal on how they saw the world. I, on the other hand, imagined more than what I saw. They didn’t connect well with a child’s view of the world. I was more about rocks, nails, and bugs.
VSONOMA: ...and when did you get serious about it?
I accepted an early retirement offer from my employer. It included a bit of money and I used it to go back to school. I got an AA degree in Professional Photography. My internship was with an amazing group of artists and I photographed their artwork for gallery brochures, websites, and such. It was highly technical and exacting.
My studio was inside an old railroad vault from the 1920s. It allowed me absolute control of the lighting for color control. I didn’t realize at first how these artists would influence my personal photography. Since many artists are not realist in their work, they began to suggest changes in how I approached the ‘why’ of an image. General shape and form, combined with mood or reaction, seemed more important than the subject. I was in my final year at school and I clearly remember my instructors commenting on the drift that was beginning to show in my assignments. They were classic photographers focused on Portraits, Weddings, and Landscapes. My work was leaving that and becoming much more interpretive.
VSONOMA: What are your favorite subjects or areas of interest?
I like things that tease the viewer or makes them react (like, fear, discomfort, warmth, etc.). I found that when one looks at an image, there is the initial 1-2 second impression. Overall forms, shapes, and colors happen here. Many move on at that point. But others may linger. The second impression takes longer as they begin to study the image, building context and assigning their own values and interpretation. The third impression is when they see some element or detail that is an Ah Ha moment. It may change their realization of what they’re looking at and make them come back and re-question their assumptions. If I sense that, then I’m pleased.
VSONOMA: Please tell us a little about your style and process.
This varies over time, as my interests evolve. I only photograph for my personal pleasure. The pieces in this show are all in-camera multiple exposures (ME) and many are also intentional camera movement (ICM). This collection is of 16 exposure images. This allows a linear flow of time to be captured in one image. The camera movement also allows a changing perspective in one image.
When viewed, the first impression delivers a basic or crude overall shape, form, and color. A balance. When someone looks further, they begin to see context of a scene. Further examination may reveal subtle detail that contains the message or purpose of the image.
VSONOMA: Do you cite any other photographers, past or present, as mentors or having a special influence on your work?
Photographers? Not really. Local Artists? Yes. My work is drawn from within on how I feel that day or that moment. I have no one else in mind as I work my camera. (Sometimes I don’t think even I know what I have in mind. I follow the ‘feel’). There may be similarities between some of my images and someone else, but that is more of a coincidence rather than intent.
When I would write my essays for school about past famous photographers, one thing I noticed is that most were rule breakers. They did not conform to the defined standards and classifications of their peers. They did not copy. It was later, when their individuality in their work was recognized, they became ‘famous’. This was even true for someone as basic as Ansel Adams. You need to follow your own heart when creating a photograph. It’s YOU who needs to be pleased with how it looks.
VSONOMA: Last question...If you could choose a location for a 'grand photo expedition', where would it be?
I live in a deep rural area. There is no grand architecture, no edifices of man. I think I would like to spend a month in Montreal. I would like to interpret the old part of the city, the underground courseways, and the people.
VSONOMA: Thanks so much for the interview Richard. Very enlightening!
To learn more about Richard L. Young's work, visit him on Facebook.
All images © 2017 - Richard L. Young Photography