Artist Spotlight: Photographer Alan Ross

There are only a few spots left for the upcoming Alan Ross photography Workshop 2021. We are excited to host Alan for his fifth return to Carmel. Recently, Carol Henry, photography director at Carmel Visual Arts asked Alan a few questions. You may be interested in reading what he has to say. We also hope you can join us for this legendary photographer’s return.

Carmel Visual Arts: Alan, you have done four workshops with Carmel visual arts in the past. And you live in Santa Fe, NM. What is it about this region around Carmel that you enjoy when you go out with your workshop attendees?

Alan Ross: The Monterey-Carmel-Big Sur area is packed with wonderful things to see and work with. Carmel’s Point Lobos alone has a marvelous sea-and-shore offering – including Weston Beach! It also has quiet forest areas and historic whaling-station buildings. Seals sunning themselves and otters at play. Down the coast to Big Sur there are beaches and bridges and the Old Coast road offers redwood forests and dramatic views out over the Pacific. And just up the road into Carmel Valley there are wonderful oak woodlands.

CVA: How is working on the coast different from other places you enjoy very much, like Yosemite?

AR: In many ways, working on the immediate coast is more “alive” than working in other natural environments. While subtile changes in the currents of waterfalls and rivers have lives of their own, it is hard to compare with the infinitely changeable surge or crashing of ocean waters on a rocky shore – or even a sandy beach. Witnessing the soar of an occasional eagle or hawk or seeing grazing deer in a meadow is not quite the same as the rush of a sky full of vocal seagulls, cormorants hanging their wings out to dry or seeing a bunch of otters frolicking in the waves.  The coast has a life of its own.

CVA: It seems your passion for image making has superseded the film versus digital conversation. What are some additional thoughts you may have on these tools or methodologies?

AR: Cameras and lenses are only tools – different ones do their job differently – and render images with varying characteristics.  I like to opine that “one can drive a screw with a hammer, but it may not be the most effective tool for the job!”  If Ansel Adams only had a very fine Leica in his hands in Hernandez in 1941, the resulting image would not be the same as Moonrise, Hernandez from and 8×10 negative! But that 8×10 camera would not be the best tool for combat photography. Digital imaging can do many things that film photography cannot – and the other way around! A 64 megabyte card in a digital camera is one hell of a large roll of film – but then, one cannot grasp or hold a handful of pixels. There is nothing tangible about a digital image unless it winds up on film or paper.

CVA: You have mastered many styles of photography ; Nature, architectural, still life, even portraiture. Which excites you the most when traveling to a new place?

AR: The excitement in traveling to a new place is the sense of discovery.  I wrote a blog some years ago I called “Too Close to Home” – a condition of one’s surroundings becoming so familiar and “same” that we no longer are surprised or excited by the things around us. Even going back to a fond place we have been to before we enjoy seeing things again and perhaps because of a lapse in time we can see things with with “fresh” eyes!  I lived in Carmel for quite a few years – and it wound up becoming “too close to home” – but now when I return I see things I never noticed before or I had forgotten about and love seeing those things and places again.

CVA: I ask that because photography and travel go hand in hand, and I think we have all missed seeing new places through our camera lens in the past year. How have you kept yourself inspired and creative during the pandemic?

AR: Like much of the world, the pandemic has indeed kept me pretty close to home – unlike my  2019 travels to Virginia, New Jersey, Cuba, Georgia, North Carolina, Yosemite, Ireland, Scotland, Yosemite and China. But thanks to my photographs, I was able to “visit” all of those places again and again. The world was in my cameras.

Alan Ross continues to print the Ansel Adams special edition prints that are exclusive only through the Ansel Adams Gallery. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Julie, photographing and teaching workshops abroad. If you want to join his upcoming workshop, click the link below.


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