Artist Interview with photographer Michael Coles at Modern West Fine Art

Special Artist Interview featuring Black and White Photographer, Michael Coles, interviewed Jill Lingwall.

You are a newly represented artist at Modern West Fine Art. Can you tell a little about your background? Where you are from, etc.

I grew up mostly around the greater Boston area. At one time I was studying medicine on the east coast, but sometimes life has something different in store for you then what was planned. If some one had told me when I was 19 or 20 that I would be working with cameras when I got older, I would not have believed them. I have been photographing the west for over 15 years now.

You choose to shoot film instead of digital, which is a rarity in today's world. What is your technique with shooting films?

I embrace both digital and film. I work in both mediums. Film can be less forgiving and is perhaps more austere to work with. Film makes on slow down. Regarding technique, I photograph everything hand held. I believe in the notion of the camera being an extension of your arms and body and eyes.

Paper and printing make all the difference in photographic prints. Can you describe your printing process and paper selection?

Silver gelatin papers are some of the most beautiful papers in the world. The picture comes from within as opposed to pigments on top. Film is alchemy - photochemical energy as opposed to electro-magnetic energy. I have enjoyed printings and developing over the years and have been fortunate to work with some very good printers in the west. There's a physicality and a unique intimacy with the printing process and working in the dark room.

You work is often focused on western themes. How does this subject matter inspire and interest you?

The American West has always been full of possibility to me. The geometry of space in the west is a calling to many. I have always felt drawn to its dramatic and rugged lands, but also intrigued by rapid changes that are occurring.

Black Shadow by Coles

Some of the photographs in your  exhibition are quite dynamic and full of motion. What it is like to be photographing in the middle of this action?

I enjoy working with improvisatory subject matter such as bucking horses. It often compels the photographer to let go a bit more, wrestle with uncontrolled motions and lighting. This brings into play an abundance of change for picture making. Spontaneous actions and physics of this nature demand reliance on instinct and intuition, maybe a primal vision of sorts.

View his work here