John Tillotson

Artists Statement

I have been passionate about black and white photography as a fine art since the early 1970’s when I discovered the beautiful work of the legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams. His work and life has been a tremendous source of inspiration and has had a profound influence on my own photographic work.

My journey in photography began in 1973 with a simple 35mm camera and a roll of Kodak black and white film. As my skills and artistic vision grew, I graduated to the 4×5 view camera. This camera requires a “dark cloth” over your head in order to compose and “focus” the image on a ground glass located at the back of the camera. It produces a film negative 4″x5″ in size and is able to capture very subtle details in an image with incredible sharpness and clarity. This larger film negative gives the photographer the ability to create very large prints with no loss of detail or sharpness.

In 1980, I went on to study graphic design and photography at Bowling Green State University. Many of my photographic compositions have been inspired by the designers and artists I discovered in college. I love photographing in scrap metal and junk yards, along with abandoned structures, barns and burned out buildings. The graphic nature of a rusted metal door or a charred piece of wood lends itself to a striking and beautiful black and white image. I tend to work close up to a subject in order to capture and isolate interesting details, shapes, forms, and textures. In recent years I’ve discovered the photographic beauty that lies within ice formations in frozen rivers and lakes. I’ve always been drawn to the interesting world of plants, trees and the natural landscape as subject matter for my photographs.

When I’m out photographing I carry an 8”x10” piece of black mat board with a 4”x5” window cut out of the center. While holding this card at arms length, I look through the cutout opening and this helps me compose and isolate an image, thus eliminating any unwanted or distracting details in the composition. It also helps me decide where to set up my camera and tripod. This is a technique I learned from Ansel Adams. In recent years, I’ve discovered the photographic beauty of ice formations in frozen rivers and lakes and I’ve always been drawn to the natural beauty of plants, trees and the landscape as subject matter.

The group of images on display at Michael Stefan’s Salon reflect my love and passion for black and white photography.