Fern LoganFern Logan, 1985From The Artist Portrait Series

My work is a love affair with light. In photography, as with so many other visual media, light reveals detail and texture by defining the form with highlights and shadows. In the photographic medium the quality of “beauty” arises from light falling on, surrounding, or emerging from a subject. PHOTO = light, OGRAPHY = process of drawing, representing, recording. Every great photograph needs to have detail in the shadows and the highlights. I try to achieve a full range of tonality in an image by allowing my lens, my eye, my gaze to witness the play of light on an object, person, or scene and recording that accurately. Ultimately, the subject is only a tool to reflect the light. The trick is to “capture” it like a firefly in the evening. I attribute this ability to grab something so fleeting, as a gift that is given rather than something I have “taken” or stolen. Fixing a moment in time, an expression, a gesture, a glance is a spiritual experience, my goal as an artist is to be in the moment to receive the gift.

I often have my subjects sit and pose in natural light for my portraits. Usually the gaze, gesture, clothing of a subject brings its own unique intensity to a sitting. The lighting adds to the drama of the moment. Knowing when the moment is right is the magic that seals the image. Henri Cartier-Bresson referred to it as “The Decisive Moment.” It’s always there somewhere, it’s my job to recognize it and grab it. I stage these formal sittings with props and often use a black backdrop to isolate the subject. I want the viewers eye to only see what I select for the image. And then I wait for the unexpected.

Since my voice comes from my soul, my experience, I want it to represent who I am. It is for this reason that a large part of my work challenges static, flat, reductive representations of blackness. My art counters simple essentilizations of black subjectivity; rather, my approach to each subject is to find what is both unique and universal to them, to reveal and transcend, to simply illuminate the truth of their humanity. In this way, I sometimes experience my work as selfportraiture, though I may not be in the frame.