"I don't know if I like it, but it's what I meant." - Ralph Vaughan-Williams, on his fourth symphony.

"Bruce takes excessive interest in personal art projects." - My first grade teacher, in my student file, 1960.


Perhaps my first grade teacher was just trying to warn the other teachers that they had a little lavender one amongst them. But thankfully I had other teachers that tolerated my interest and a few that even encouraged me in it. Drawing and painting were a constant preoccupation in grade school, a reflex whenever I had a pen or pencil in my hand. I still have one of my old three-ring binders, all covered with doodles and drawings.

Mom was supportive and gave me plenty of drawing tools. There were painters in her family, and so I later learned in Dad's too. She loved her paint-by-numbers but her boy tended to draw outside the lines. So she gave me lots of blank paper and crayons and a folding table I could draw on. One summer while on vacation mom lent me her camera for an afternoon, and when we got the roll back from the developer everyone was pleased at how good the pictures were. So for my 7th birthday mom gave me my first camera, a little Kodak Brownie Fiesta.

That camera became my constant companion for every vacation and school field trip from then on. I always got compliments on the pictures I took, and the gadgetry of photography tweaked the budding techno geek in me. But it wasn't until my high school art teacher Frank Moran clued me in, that I became aware I could also use the camera as an expressive tool. A friend showed me how to develop my own film and I bought my first 35mm camera to give it a try. Seeing it Frank gave me an assignment that consisted only of a title, "Evidence of Man", and instructions to produce photographs based on whatever I made of it.

It set me off. Something deep down inside just clicked with that assignment. The imagery came out of me in torrents. Soon after I bought my first 35mm SLR, a Petri FT. and the following year I worked flipping burgers all summer long to be able to buy a professional grade camera and lens...my Canon F1. For the next decade and a half the F1 was my constant companion everywhere I went. I began to reconsider my future career...maybe I should become a professional photographer instead of a cartoonist. I was already my school newspaper cartoonist, now I became its photographer as well. I started submitting photos to the yearbook, and got a few small gigs with some local community newspapers.

They say that photography alone among the arts is the easiest to master and the hardest to find your own voice in. As time went on I could definitely see mine, I just wasn't at all sure I liked it. After high school I tried doing my first book of photography. Titled Shadows and Light, it was a collection of what I felt to be my best art photography then. By the time I finished with it I pretty much knew I was never going to be a happy calendar photographer. But for whatever the reason, it was me.

It is what it is. You will notice looking through the images that somehow I keep being drawn back to boardwalks and carnivals. Also the backs of buildings and industrial structures. Certain themes keep popping up. I leave determining those to others. I have tried for ages to figure this part of me out and I can't.

Two collections here, The Shadows and Light Sessions and Sleep Talking God, represent the before and after break in my art photography. There was a period of time I stopped doing it because I didn't like looking at what was coming out of me. But eventually I took it back up again and everything after that break is Sleep Talking God. The others are collections of shots I think are good, but don't really belong in the art photography galleries. The Road Trip collection for example contains shots I am really happy with but simply express my love of driving down roads I've never been down before. The Life and Times collection is photography I either did for my newspapers or just to record the history I was living through for myself. Living in the suburbs of Washington D.C. throughout the Johnson/Nixon Vietnam years, and the early days of the gay rights movement, I had plenty of opportunity to observe history as it was happening. There is a collection of Home and Friends photographs that is there just for the love of home and friends.

These collections are not static. The Shadows and Light Sessions will grow a tad as I get more things from that period scanned in, but that is a finite amount of stuff. The rest will continue to grow until I have put the cameras down for the last time. Hence, the gallery numbering, as opposed to naming them. If you like what I do, check back from time to time as I will likely have more galleries up. If I can get some sort of commenting system going here so viewers can leave comments on particular images I will, but that might take some time...this website is a one man operation and a lot of it, like this page for instance, is hand rolled.

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland. 2013


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