To say I dislike writing bios is a grand understatement. To say I am an eclectic photographer equally so.
The pictures presented represent are those I enjoy more than perhaps my very best. I like that each takes me back to some specific time and place and can hear my students howl in protest over that statement! Most of the images are of people: I find them more compelling to photograph than objects.
So to get rid of the specifics: an undergraduate degree in Art History and an undeclared minor in Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; a graduate degree in Art from same; further education in Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Design, and Architecture; for 11 years faculty and state wide coordinator for continuing photographic education, UW-Madison Extension. I have been involved in the teaching of photography for something like 30 years.
One of my best decisions was to become a General Member of ASMP in 1991; I started StudioM a few years earlier.
My client list includes the corner Mom and Pop and Fortune 500 companies. The best gig: 10 years as special assignment photographer for the United States Olympic Team. I travel well and have considerable International experience.
More importantly I think photography is not a process created in the mind like painting or drawing, rather a collaborative effort including many elements, conditions, situations and people. And to that end acknowledge all those clients, art directors, stylists, models, friends, and not the least, assistants who became coconspirators and made these images possible.
I mind not when an art director wants to look through the camera…
For me pictures start with narrative and if lucky end in metaphor. I’m not sure we create anything rather simply design what is in the viewfinder with one eye looking forward toward post-production. I often draw many thumbnails after scouting an assignment.
I think the darkroom is a wonderfully contemplative place but do not miss mine. There was something quite special about pulling wet film from a reel to see what kind of exposure and contrast was achieved — less accurate than the camera’s histrogram — but far more pleasing.
I think most photography takes itself far too seriously — photographers more so… My heroes are the great documentary photographers — not the Photoshop specialists. Richard Avedon was the most influential photographer of the last Century’s second half.
My next wished for assignment: something documentary in Cuba.
Tom McInvaille, 2009