The work of Ron Germundson, this month's featured artist in Photo Potpourri's Photographer Spotlight, stands out from traditional photographs because of its "look," and that's perfectly fine with Ron.
Ron, another member of Photo.net, a global online site where photographers of all skill levels mingle and interact, almost exclusively applies a texturizer to his public work, rendering their appearance to that quite often described as "fine art" or "classic painting."
Germundson was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1947, which Germundson likes to cite as the same year India declared its independence from Britain and aliens crash-landed in Roswell, N.M. He grew up in a military family that moved across the country frequently. Later, Ron said, he spent "a year of enlightenment" in the mountain jungles of Vietnam, then came back and settled in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He now resides in St. Paul.
He earned a BA degree from Metropolitan State University and spent two years studying photography at Willmar Vocational School. He has spent some 28 years working with and exploring photography, developing his craft in the years when it was exclusively film and staying with it through the transition to digital.
"Over the years, my photography has gone through some transformations, from traditional to more painterly photo impressionism," Ron said. "I continuously strive to make my images uniquely different. A good friend of mine said that 'I'm a photographer with a painter's soul.' "
He acknowledges how the digital era has led to tremendous change in the craft in just the past 10 years. "It feels good to be part of this exciting experience. Where this journey will end up, I haven't got a clue, but I'm enjoying the ride!"
Ron has been published in the international publication Design Graphic and locally in numerous issues of Mpls St. Paul Magazine.
His work has been displayed at Spirit of The River, Phipps Center for the Arts and Minnetonka Center for the Arts. His wedding photo was cited in May 2007 as a photo of the month for weddings and engagements by CameraArts.
Ron works part time in the evenings, the rest of the time on his craft and other photography work. In the spring, summer and fall he shoots interiors and exteriors of new condos and apartments and does a few wedding. I caught up with Ron recently to ask him a bit more about his work:
When did you first get into photography, and was it a gradual thing -- or something you latched onto instantly and passionately?
My passion in photography started in high school, with my dad’s Kodak 120 box camera. The process of putting an image on film, developing and printing was very exciting. Later in Vietnam a friend resurrected my interest in photography. I bought a 35mm Topcon D and I’ve been pushing that little chrome shutter button ever since.
Anyone who has seen your work recognizes that your images reflect a distinct look of being a piece of fine art work, a painting. How would you characterize your style? And was there any influence, or "epiphany," that steered you into this direction with your images?
Ken Millburn out of California was the first to influence me back in '97 or '98. His work reflected a painting style that caught my eye. Later, Aimee Stewart opened my eyes to the use of textures as layers on top of the image. Another influence was Michael Regnier from Kansas. Michael’s work was inspiring to me, as were those great photo-impressionists as I call them from Europe: Vittorio Pellazza, Christina Venedict, Magdalena Wandi, Hans Jorgen Kotter and others. All of them are pushing the digital envelope to new frontiers.
Many of the comments about your portfolio at photo.net salute your post-processing work, your skills at "photoshopping." Are all of your photographs, indeed, treated with some kind of editing software filter, and do you use the same one or two on every image treated this way? Or is the process far more entailed than just simply applying a pre-set filter onto an image? In other words, do you feel comfortable explaining to curious photographers (myself included) any "secrets" about your system?
I feel very strongly that the terms used to describe the artistic process in digital photography are misnomers. Words like post-processing, photoshopping and manipulation seem to cheapen and degrade the finished piece of work. These descriptors make the piece seem more mechanical and less personal. New terms or definition are needed to define these techniques or styles. I’ve started calling this style "photo texturing: photo impressionism." Roughly 90% of all my art prints are manually treated from a catalog of textures that I have collected over the years. I have used up to 6 to 12 different textures on one image, all in varying degrees of opacity.
Because you know you're going to use a post-processing system on your pictures, do you approach the shooting of those pictures any differently than the average photographer? I mean ... is there stuff like lighting, positioning, a time of day, etc., that you need to have just perfect ... perhaps more so than if you were just going to use an image normally?
Nothing is perfect in art. I work with what I have and bend a little light in the process. The camera is the tool I use to catch the image. I bring it home and load it into my computer, which is my painting palette. It holds my colors, my textures and my brushes.
Is there a danger, do you think, for photographers aspiring to make a mark with their work, to mix the way they display their images, or diversity too much? I mean ... can a photographer or artist lose hope of creating a niche if he or she tries to diversify too much, do you think?
I feel it works best to find your own niche or style and stick with it!
Have you had your images published or displayed publicly in a gallery or at arts/crafts fairs -- and do you sell your work? Do you do this full ti me for your livelihood or is it a hobby?
I have my work up in two galleries at the present time with more openings coming up in the summer and fall. My work is selling pretty well considering the economic climate.
Are their subjects or projects you haven't done yet but would like to undertake with your photography?
I would like to make a children’s book.
What photo editing (post-processing) software do you use? Photoshop? How difficult was it for you to find the right post-processing combination you wanted to apply to your images?
I use Photoshop for 90% of my work the other 10% is Corel Painter. It has taken some time and a lot of hits and misses to learn the right techniques.
You can view these and other images captured by Ron Germundson at the following online galleries:
Ron's personal Web site
Ron's page at DeviantArt
Ron's galleries at photo.net