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by Galen Schlich

Since the beginning of 2000 I have been primarily focused on the portrait in photography. My past explorations consisted completely of natural scenic photography with little or no human presence. This changed dramatically as I traveled around the world for a year visiting various countries and experiencing a variety of different cultures. In 2005 I attended SPEOS Photographic Institute in Paris France for one year. It was in Paris that I explored photography and my vision, completely immersing myself in a variety of techniques old and new. I discovered through trying different processes in the darkroom that I could add a second environment to the photo through alternative developing processes.  Photography, to me, does not differ from painting in that an image expresses the most, not through how precisely or clearly the image is painted or photographed, but how the artist wishes to depict the emotion or mood he or she experienced when inspiration presents itself, and if done correctly, will present the viewer with similar feelings. 

 The use of black and white in my work also narrow the senses down, providing an atmosphere that co-exists easily with my subjects, providing I believe, another aspect of the feeling that I try and obtain in my work. Recently I have been working on the theme of life, innocence and beauty versus time and aging.

 My focus in many of my pictures is to create something very simple for the eye and at the same time very sensual. The subject of innocence is very obvious in my work because it has always captivated me. It’s a question for me, and also something that goes hand in hand with beauty in children. As an adult someone can possess great beauty, as for innocence, that is all but gone, we lose that upon entering adolescence. The innocence of a child combined with beauty is magical for me, but that innocence is something that is fleeting, like the blossoming of spring flowers, you know that in the not too far off future that bloom will be over. Children live in the moment and, unlike many adults, children are constantly dreaming and questioning things, however simple, and for me it’s nice to be a part of that simplicity and innocence. I believe that beauty and innocence are two of the aspects that compel me in most of my work.

   Participation is the one thing that I really require when I’m shooting with a person. If the subject doesn’t understand my work or at least what I am trying to capture then often times the end result doesn’t work.  I try and involve the subject into being an active participant in this creative process as much as possible and, when necessary, explain to them what it is that I am trying to capture such as a mood, feeling, etc. It is such a wonderful thing to work with someone and achieve something that really works, often I find that the second shoot with a subject is much better than the first because they have had a chance to see the results. They then have a better understanding what I’m looking for.  For me, the exchange between the subject and photographer is paramount to realization, when everything fits there seems to be a very unique stillness and unspoken conversation between my subject and I. I find this very calming, it is like someone telling you a bedtime story when you’re a child. Oftentimes I sense the subject experiencing the same thing. For most of my portraits I use an 8x10 bellows camera. This slows everything down and allows for that space to emerge. I try and set an atmosphere of tranquility and work slowly so there’s a very tangible calmness when it comes time for exposure. Children are wonderful to work with, anything that involves attention and imagination seems to compel them, although sometimes it is hard getting them to be still long enough.

Galen Schlich
P. O. Box 993745
Redding, CA 96099

Tel. 530 351.1489