featured - David Johndrow


featured - David Johndrow
“Suddenly I would get lost looking through the camera, it was like
entering another world. Ordinary things took on an aura of grandeur
and importance.”
LIFE IN MACRO Interview with David Johndrow
AN: Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
DJ: My name is David Johndrow and I live and work in Austin, Texas. AN: How did you get into photography?
I saw an image of something that I shot appear in the developer tray I was hooked and decided I wanted to do photography full time. I started doing commercial work after graduating, mostly shooting portraits. I also supplemented my income by working as a custom printer in photo labs. I’m glad I had that experience because it forced me to put in a lot of hours in the dark-­
room. As I got better at making prints that were stronger, I also got better at visualizing my own
Stink Bug
work. I learned a lot from working with other people’s photographs, both good and bad.
AN: Tell us about your passion for macro.
DJ: My use of macro came out of combining my obsession with gardening with my interest in photography. For a long time I had no interest in shooting photos in my garden. It was mostly because I didn’t want to do what other photogra-­
phers have done so well before. But as I spent more time outdoors I started to notice the most sublimely beautiful things going on a very small scale, they looked amazing in the natural light of their own habitat. So, I began experimenting with ways to get up close and still be hand held. I wanted to be quick and mobile. So I put exten-­
sion tubes on my regular Hasselblad lens and discovered that although this set-­up presented some restrictions such as limited ability to focus
and lower light gathering power, I liked what I saw. In fact, the forced simplicity of the set-­up allowed me to focus more on the image than on the technical aspects of shooting the picture. I used the lens wide open out of necessity because WKH¿OP,XVHLVUHODWLYHO\VORZIRUWKHVKDGHOLJKW
I like. Fortunately, it turned out that the shallow focus worked great at isolating the details of the things I was shooting. Suddenly, I would get lost looking through the camera, it was like entering
another world. Ordinary things took on an aura of grandeur and importance. I decided to treat the subjects in nature as formal portraits and try to make them look iconic but at the same time retain their wildness.
AN: What is your inspiration?
Irving Penn. I love how he can make anything Beetle On Rain Lilly
look elegant, from fashion models to tribal people to found objects. I love his high contrast printing style and how graphically strong his compositions are. I also like Edward Weston and Karl Blossfeld. Blossfeld was really good at showing the architecture of nature. Another LQÀXHQFHRQP\DUWLVWKHERWDQLFDODUWLVW(UQVW
Haeckel. I have reproductions of some of his drawings up in my darkroom to inspire me. He really shows the beautifully intricate designs of nature at all scales. Something about his art is wonderfully weird and psychedelic. Besides WKHVHSKRWRJUDSKLFDQGDUWLVWLFLQÀXHQFHV,DOVR
need to mention my love of Laurens Van der Post’s stories of the bushmen of the Kalahari and how they revered the small things in nature the most.
AN: What do you wish to convey to your view-­
Bumble Bee
DJ: I hope that when people look at my phto-­
graphs, they get a new perspective on the things that are all around us that we sometimes take for granted. We tend to get disassociated from nature and forget what a miracle it is. I am always amazed at the new things I discover out in my garden. Things seem to appear to me as if by magic. I try to capture some of that magic to share with others. AN: What is one the biggest challenges you face?
DJ: It’s a real challenge to depict something that has been photographed so many times. What I’m learning is that the ways of experiencing nature DUHLQ¿QLWH,KRSHSHRSOHZKRVHHP\SKRWR-­
graphs come away with a greater appreciation of the beauty of common things.
AN: Can you tell us about your post-­processing techniques?
By using alternative processes I am able to have a wider range of expression in my printing and a greater chance of the “happy accidents” that I DJ: I like to print my images on silver gelatin, think make photographs unique. I strive for ex-­
platinum/palladium or gumoil. I let the image treme simplicity in my images. Photography, by dictate what medium I will use to express it. Al-­
its nature, is a reduction of information. By re-­
though I originally capture all of my images on moving what is nonessential, images get clearer ¿OP,VRPHWLPHVPDNHHQODUJHGLQWHUQHJDWLYHV and more powerful. This is also the reason why I either with my enlarger or digitally, depending love working in black and white. on the image, so that I can make contact prints. Cardinal
AN: Do you have any projects on the go?
DJ: I am now experimenting with simple photo-­
grams, bypassing the camera altogether. I’ve got-­
ten so into it that I’ve amassed a large collection
of objects that I can print just using sunlight. Of
course I still work in my garden with my camera
close by and keep my eyes open for the next P\VWHU\WRSUHVHQWLWVHOIƆ
See more at: davidjohndrow.com
Orb Weaver Spider
El Duce Platinum
Anole Lizard
Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar