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McCormick moves into the light
The transition from commercial photography to fine-art images brought Barry McCormick into the light.
“For about thirty years, I worked in the dark, in the studio where we didn’t want extra light or in the darkroom,” McCormick said. “Now it’s easy in and easy out and I can do it in the daylight.”
McCormick said it was tough giving up film for computer processes and building his Placitas studio last year without a darkroom.
“It’s the first time I’ve been without a darkroom since I was fourteen years old,” he said. “At some point you make a decision to stay wet or go the other way.
“I was worried about the environmental impact of the chemistry.”
McCormick’s “other way” uses a digital camera or scanner to enter images into his computer where they can be manipulated in a program called Photoshop. Prints emerge from an inkjet printer using archival inks and paper.
“It’s really neat to get in the darkroom and play with a print,” he said. “I get just as much of a kick playing around with Photoshop.”
McCormick, fifty-seven, took up photography as a hobby in high school but pursued a degree in finance at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Graduating in 1968, he went to work for an acquaintance in his Connecticut photo studio and took over the business when the friend died in 1973.
Over the next twenty-four years, the studio thrived on commercial work: products for advertising, photography of food for magazines, more food for packaging. He took on a partner, added staff and another photographer, then watched as business and his interest began to wane.
“I thought by the time I reached my fifties, I’d be considered a master of the craft,” McCormick said. “Instead I was looked at more as a dinosaur.”
After an amicable split with the partner, he opened a small studio within walking distance of his home. With one major client leaving town and another cutting its budget, McCormick and his wife Peggy, whom he met in college, decided to return to the West.
A whirlwind seventeen-hundred-mile tour of New Mexico led to a brief stay in Tijeras before relocating to Los Ranchos de Placitas. The community is art-friendly, he said, and has been supportive of his move from commercial work to fine-art photography.
Some McCormick images reflect the influence of his studio work with food, others a fascination with skulls inspired in part by Georgia O’Keeffe. An artichoke and a length of thread lie on pastel-tinted paper with “artichoke” printed in rubber-stamp letters; green beans bundled in more thread appear in a similar setting.
A wooden drawer frames a raptor skull, perhaps an offhand homage to his wife’s work rehabilitating injured birds.
“I like to do little constructions, make little sets, nothing too elaborate,” McCormick said. “Then I start shooting and see where it takes me.”
He said he wants people to handle a print as if it had been discovered in an attic trunk not opened for fifty or a hundred years, faded but so interesting you are compelled to study it.
McCormick first displayed his images locally during this year’s Placitas Studio Tour. No gallery showings are scheduled yet, although he said he is in discussions about a show early next year.
Until then, images can be seen at his studio or by clicking on Featured Artist of the Month.
Images are approximately 5X7 or 8X10 in size.
They are archivally printed with 7 color, archival pigmented ink on various archival fine art papers. We should last so long!
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