Artist Statement

I am an enduring conviction that photojournalism is art. For over a thousand years, artists have depicted events on their canvases; from Yokoyama Taikan's inspiring Mountain after a Shower, to J.M.W. Turner’s brilliant Snow Storm—Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, many paintings have portrayed more than just static landscapes. Both film and digital cameras can afford the same, despite the latter’s propensity for making clinical reproductions from an immense palette. While this myriad of hues is captivating, it can also be distracting. Accordingly, my imagery is monochromatic, exploring Renoir’s “queen of all colors.”

My work traverses the seasons. As summer thunderstorms yield to autumn drought, fire speeds the demise of grasslands and forests before being extinguished by early winter snowstorms; in the continental mid-latitudes, there is no rest for the weary. The atmosphere is in constant motion here, its energy seeming inexhaustible and its fury unrelenting. The interplay of this energy with the seasonal shift of light is the essence of my photography.

Photographic Integrity

Although a photograph should always represent an artist’s unique vision, it should also be honest. Today, photographic illustrations too easily masquerade as genuine photographs, potentially misleading their viewers. I use previsualization, manual camera techniques, and traditional darkroom approaches in lieu of overindulgent digital manipulation to create works that have integrity. I never use filters or special effects lenses to alter the appearance of a scene, I never add content to a scene after capture, and I never crop my images.


Jon Van de Grift