Michael Scandling

I’ve admired simplicity in art, design, writing — and pretty much everything else — since I was a kid. In the early 60s I was knocked out by the iconic Volkswagen “Think Small” ad: white page, small black-and-white photo of a VW bug, two-word headline, a few words that got right to the point with no fluff, and the logo. Who needs more? It changed my life by defining an aesthetic. It led to a career in advertising and eventually got me to where I am now — making photographs rather than just directing them. My personal photographic history parallels my career, starting with analog and moving to digital. What comes out of my camera is often just the first stage in the creative process that leads to the final image.

My influences have tended to be those who have worked in pigments more than those who have worked in photons, film, and pixels. John Constable, JMW Turner, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mark Rothko occasionally whisper in my ear while I’m working.

Artist’s Statement

My photography, for the most part, treads a thin line between too much on one side and not enough on the other. My Horizons, I suppose, are that line.

The Horizon images stem from a lifelong fascination with the division between sea and sky. The first time I saw an ocean horizon I wondered if it was really the curvature of the earth I was seeing or just an illusion. That question has long since faded, but I have been drawn to the horizon ever since. For me, looking out at that line for anything more than a quick glance has a calming effect, bringing some order into an often tumultuous environment. If I can take a bit of that horizon with me and refine it to its essence — often a little more impressionist or abstract, a little less literal — it becomes portable and lasting. If I can share it in a photograph and you are similarly enchanted, so much the better.

My wave photographs are the other side of the oceanic coin. Waves travel across the ocean for thousands of miles, building up in stature at the end of their long journey to the shore. As is often the case, the end of a journey brings with it some excitement. But within all the apparent chaos and thunderous force there is another form of order, be it frozen in stillness or drawn in fluid motion.

Floral photography takes us away from the sea and onto the land where we discover that flowers can have horizons of their own. Florascapes stem from a fortunate accident one day on a photo shoot — greatly magnifying a flower image to check focus and being greeted with an abstract desert scene. Various remembrances of Georgia O’Keeffe agree that she had a whimsical sense of humor. I’d like to think that if she saw these, she’d chuckle, wink, and poke me in the ribs.

My intention is to create photographs that can be explored, absorbed, rediscovered, and enjoyed for a long time. All of these photos have at least one thing in common: they want to create an environment and to do that they want to be seen large.