THE ARTISTS' STATEMENTS
I have taken pictures casually all my life and had learned the
rudiments of cameras and lenses, I did not think of taking
photography seriously. That has changed. Not quite three years ago,
I got a digital SLR, and began taking photographs seriously.
Initially I had no clear direction, and photographed whatever took
my eye. I still do that, but an important moment came when I
Taking photographs has changed me. I look at much more than I ever
did before, and see a lot more. I’ve reached a point where dealing
with my photographs has become like work—in a very good sense. I
always carry a small digital camera, and have learned one lesson: if
I see a picture, I take it. Not following this rule has cost me some
pictures that I regret not having.
In the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to photograph
classes and rehearsals at Berkeley Ballet Theater
(BBT), a Berkeley
dance school with facilities in the Julia Morgan Center. I am
grateful to BBT for giving me the opportunity to visit and take
I wouldn’t have got where I am without a little help from my
friends. For almost two years I’ve participated in Joan Bobkoff’s
portfolio workshop at Photolab. This group has provided constructive
criticism and encouragement.
Photography has been an interest of
mine for a very long time. It may have started when I was very young
when Dad made us stand very still for what seemed an eternity, while
he held his camera waist high, looking down into the view finder and
then, finally, he’d wave his hand giving us the signal to “defrost”
from our pose. That could be the reason for my preference to capture
candid photos of others, capturing a natural state. I have
photographed flowering plants, animals and special events, such as
street fairs and cultural celebrations. Currently, my subject has
been dogs at play.
A selection of images from my collection of captured moments while
visiting Point Isabel in El Cerrito, California. are displayed here at
Photolab. This selection of images include dogs at play in the bay,
a dance in the sky performed by some of the wildlife living nearby,
and incredibly beautiful sunsets we sometimes take for granted.
interest in photography began in college in the 1980’s. However, it
wasn’t until 1990, when I returned to San Francisco, after spending
several years abroad, that I began to take photography seriously. At
that time I found myself living next door to a photography gallery
and darkroom, and my interest in photography was rekindled. I dusted
off my grandfather’s
Rolleiflex and began working in medium format.
I continue to shoot with the Rollei, as well as a traditional SLR. I
have not made the leap to digital, and at this time have no desire
These images capture the texture and feel of the city, in this case
New York. The concrete, steel and
brick that surround you as you walk down empty streets, past
doorways, walls, and buildings, layered and splattered with images;
the messages scratched, painted and sprayed upon them. The energy
and art that emanate from the city itself are the core of these
images. The most perceptive, and
complimentary, remark made about my work was that one of my images
looked like it could be a cover for an album by the
Underground - the preeminent New York underground rock band. It is
that sound, that texture, that energy, which inspire me to pick up a
first exhibited piece of art was a drawing of a duck included in a
collection of student art at the
Alabama State Fair. I was eight
There was then a hiatus in my art career while I completed
elementary and high school, college and medical school, and three
years of post doctoral training. A hiatus, that is, if you don’t
include elaborate art projects illustrating science papers and
hundreds of hours as a documentarian, which is much of what
practicing medicine is about.
Since the time of the duck drawing I have wanted to write a book.
After numerous starts, I now have a completed draft. Naively I had
thought that a book would start with words. This book, however,
started with a series of photographs and a class with other
The book from which these pages are taken is “image driven”. It has
been far easier to write and to stay with the project since the
photo documentation process began. The Positively Fifth Street
Portfolio Group has been instrumental in my getting the writing
Here are some of the pages and images from the book. Enjoy!
positively fifth street
April 27 to June 20, 2009
The Positively 5th Street Photolab Project
evolved from a series of workshops in portfolio
development offered at Photolab in Berkeley,
Join the group...
photographers currently involved in this “Positively 5 St. Project”
are a diverse group. Included are a doctor, a lawyer, a graphic
designer, a state investigator and a retired computer engineer. All
of the “Positively 5th Street” participants share is a commitment to
creating a body of work with visual impact and a consistent point of
view. The P5SPP has worked together as a group more than a year (in
its current incarnation) sharing information on all things
photographic and reviewing and editing each other’s work.
the guidance of Joan Bobkoff, photography instructor at Laney
College, the Positively 5th Street Photolab Project has provided a
creative space for each person to pursue his or her respective
project in depth.
members come to the group with a well-developed concept and with
much of the work already shot. Others discovered their theme or
vision in the course of our workshops and brought in new images to
reviewed and incorporated into already selected work.
of the various ways members of the Positively 5th Street Photolab
Project approached their work, everyone was pleased with the high
quality of the emerging portfolios. All members of the P5SPP were
enthusiastic about having a group show at the Photolab Gallery, as
was Andrea McLaughlin, the owner of Photolab and curator of the
photographer has written his/her own artist statement, so you will
learn more about the artists and their work directly from the
sources. All the photographs displayed in the show are available for
sale and price lists & contact information for each artist’s work
can be found in the gallery.
If you are interested in learning more
about the P5SPP, visit the workshop web
page. Additional literature is available at Photolab. You can
also contact me directly at JBobkoffPhoto@aol.com
In the summer of 2008 I received an
incredible gift: the chance to spend a month at the
Residency Program in Banner, Wyoming and do nothing but explore my
surroundings and photograph what I saw. I became engaged in the vast
open landscape, man's attempt to tame it, and the forces nature uses
to return man's efforts to the soil. Time and the elements are
powerful weapons in the earth's arsenal.
Biography: Born in Fort Worth Texas, 1951. I've been interested in
art all my life. Drawing, painting, writing as a child; studied art
and commercial art/printing in high school. Junior College as fine
art major; drawing, painting, art history, printmaking, photography.
College in graphic design and printmaking. Active in ceramics,
photography and taught silkscreen printing. Sole proprietor, graphic
design business since 1984, designing and producing annual reports,
marketing literature and identity programs for corporations. Design
work recognized by Communication Arts Magazine, Print Magazine, The
Society of Publication Designers, The Mead Annual Report Show and
the New York Art Directors Club.
I live in Oakland, California with my wife and our 16 year old son.
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