Craft Matters

Solitary Oak, Robert Taylor

Solitary Oak by Robert Taylor

On a recent Bay Area trip, an unexpected car rental upgrade to a Ford Mustang inspired me to take a Sunday drive south through the Salinas Valley and the vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands. My route back traversed west along the Carmel Valley road (a.k.a. “Driving Heaven”) stopping in Carmel to visit the Weston Gallery and Photography West.

My initial desire was to view some Morley Baer photographs, a “west-coast-style” classic black and white photographer whom I keenly admire. But in Photography West, I was introduced to Robert Taylor. A traditional large-format black and white photographer, Robert’s wonderfully crafted silver gelatin prints reveal well-considered intimate compositions. I was won over, and acquired “Solitary Oak” which, to me, conveys themes of serenity, strength, and individualism.

Robert’s photographic endeavors are regional, seldom venturing more than a 4-hour drive from his home in Mendocino County — an intimate approach to photography that resonates deeply with me. In Robert’s own words:

“For me, as is surely the case for other photographers, certain photographs possess a magical quality about them. The reasons for this allure seem to be both personal and universal. On the personal level, I find myself drawn to themes that have abided in me since childhood, such as a love of nature and a nostalgic view of the passage of time. However, other photographs seem enchanting due to lyrical and emotive qualities inherent in the silver image itself. Subtle qualities of light and tonal nuance seem to charm the psyche regardless of theme or personal preference. The quest for such photographs is at the same time elusive and exhilarating.”

I’d be hard pressed to describe my own photographic pursuits any better.