Portfolio: Richard Whittaker

Richard Whittaker: Photographs

One Autumn day in 1976 a question appeared: if I took a photo of something I’d seen that touched my feelings, would the feeling return later when I looked at the print? At that time I’d never owned a camera and could never have imagined where this question would lead. I can trace the founding of the art magazine works & conversations to the investigation that began forty years ago as I was driving across the Bay Bridge to Oakland.

After a few years of shooting with Kodachrome, I settled on black and white “straight photography.” It’s always a challenge to find words for what makes me pick up my camera. The impulse is always clear enough; it’s like hearing a bell and turning towards the sound.

I appreciate what artist Jane Rosen wrote for an exhibit of my photography a couple of years ago, that the photos are about “finding the moments not truly seen by most, the intelligence in the pose of a well-loved dog, the sadness and quiet in certain times of the day, in certain deserted places, the long views and close-up observances. His photos lead us towards an awareness of these daily occurrences in our own lives and we’re invited to see for ourselves something of that magic.”♦

Richard Whittaker is the West Coast Editor of Parabola and is the founding editor of works & conversations. A collection of his interviews, The Conversations, Interviews with Sixteen Contemporary Artists, is available from the University of Nebraska Press.