John F. Simpson

A 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 currently lives in the Bay Area has lived in Santa Fe, Santa Barbara and New York City. He has taken formal courses in photography and attended many workshops.

John has had portfolio reviews at the Soho Gallery and the 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. He was a first-prize winner for photography at the 2016 Alamo Diablo Valley Art Association’s annual show in Danville, California and is a Member Photographer at the Center for Photographic Art (CPA) in Carmel California and was chosen for its online gallery in the 2017 International Juried Exhibition. He was featured as a Street Shooter Of The Month in the August 2017 issue of Street Photography Magazine as well as authoring several articles on the history and ethics of street photography.

Artist’s Statement

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

Photography is all about light – it is the physicochemical reaction between a photon of light and a grain of silver halide that permits us to capture an image on film, and to print that image on photographic paper. The obverse of light is darkness, and the interplay of shadow and light in black and white photography makes this genre unique – pure composition, without the added distraction of color. This is what initially drew me to black and white photography – the zen quality of the images, the yin and yang, capturing the binary nature of the universe. Similarly, shadows – and reflections – of objects transcend their literal content and meaning, entering into the mystery of what constitutes reality.

With my photographs, I try to distill the essence of the real world while permitting the viewer to find his or her own reality within that image. 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. Black and white photographs are like reading a book: They allow you to fill in with your imagination.