John F. Simpson

Self-taught photographer John F. Simpson is currently retired and devoting a major part of his time to perfecting his craft and expanding his portfolio.

Raised in New Mexico, John was exposed to a rich heritage of visual arts. During high school, he served as his yearbook photographer, developing his work in his home darkroom.

John was his ship’s photographer during his service in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Over the years since then he has drifted in and out of photography, always drawn back to the magic of the black and white image.

John has lived in Santa Fe, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and New York City.

He has taken formal courses in photography and attended many workshops.

He’s had portfolio reviews at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops; at the Soho Gallery and International Center for Photography in New York City; and, at SF Camerawork in San Francisco.

His work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and in Black+White and Adore Noir magazines, and was shown in New York City at PhotoVille. And was Street Photography Magazines Street shooter of the month for October 2017.

He was a first-prize winner for photography at the 2016 Diablo Valley Art Association’s annual show in Danville, California.

In addition John’s work was selected for The Center for Photographic Arts 2017 International Juried Exhibition Online Catalog.

Artist’s Statement

“Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion.”
Days of Future Passed/The Moody Blues

I’m a self-taught photographer who got my start at age seven with a Brownie Bullet, a Christmas gift from my parents. As I explored the medium over the years, I became fascinated by street photography and the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Bruce Gilden and others.

I carry a camera with me most of the time now. As much as I love the romance of film, digital photography gives me a powerful tool with which to capture images I see on the street. I post-process in Light Room and Silver Effects Pro and print true black and white gelatin-silver prints.

For me, the best photographs are those that pull you into a scene and provoke an emotional response — humor, sadness, excitement, joy, revulsion. The key is presenting viewers with subject matter they can relate to. I feel the best way to do that is in the black and white palette.

What initially drew me to black and white photography was the interplay of shadow and light, and the opportunity to focus on pure composition without the distraction of color. Black and white photographs are like reading a book: they allow you to fill in with your imagination.

I’m always looking for that “decisive moment.”