Artist Statement and Bio for Gene Newell
After 40 years of working my way around the country’s small towns, I wanted to get away from the heat and sun, so I settled in Portland in 2001.
These travels kept me from all but the occasional darkroom in various classes. I really never saw my images until I started learning Photoshop in ‘92. The learning curve is still a bitch.
Photoshop is now my highly sophisticated darkroom. I "develop" my files and essentially "dodge and burn" the shadows and highlights in my photographs the same way that every photograph has been manipulated since the first image came out of the primordial soup. The main difference in the process is that I do it with pixels and the others did it with chemicals.
For some strange reason, people still seem to think that somehow film and chemical prints are superior to digital. You might as well say “Ford is better than Chevy,” or some other idiocy. Maybe oil paintings really are superior to water colors. Nobody seems to think about the image, just the technology.
I am proud to say all of my images are "Photoshopped." Some are scans from negatives, some are the dreaded “digital,” and some are composites of various things. I no longer have to use chemicals or even be in the dark. More importantly, I can do these same things to color images. I am no longer confined to 2 colors. When that’s all there was, 2 colors were great - Just like television used to be.
I really haven’t “liked” photographs or photographers for a long time. There are too many “it has to be this f stop” or “it has to be that camera” or “this technology is the greatest” - rules to go around. I have always loved figurative realism paintings more than photographs. Abstractions have never worked in my simple minded world. A lack of talent forces me to use cameras instead of brushes. I like it when people say my images look like paintings rather than photographs.
If a painter wants a shadow lit, they paint it a lighter color. If I want a shadow lit, I will move a “curve” or some other arbitrary algorithmic tool to light it. Others dodge the shadow in the enlarger or leave the chemicals on longer. Some people wait on one of the various gods to light the shadow. Some people use a crew of 40 and budget of thousands to light the shadow. Some use an assistant with a reflector to light their shadow. The shadow was still lit regardless of the process. It is either beautiful or it aint.
I try to keep the beauty in nudity. I prefer sensuality to sexuality. The models like my work. Some people say good things about my work. Photographers bellyache about film. It seems the more I like an image the less other people like it. Sometimes I try to please others. Sometimes I please myself.