Mike Swiek

Artist’s Website

Photography and I met at an early age. I came to it willingly, it accepted me, and I embraced it. The true magic took hold when around age 7, I was at last allowed to hold my father’s cherished Leica and “press the button” to take a picture. About 3-4 years later came my own introduction to the darkroom, establishing the longest “relationship” I have ever had.

So began a lifetime pursuit. Names such as Stieglitz, Steichen, Eisenstaedt, Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and George Tice were of more interest to me than The Beatles, Starsky & Hutch, Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock. Then there were the “gods” who spoke most deeply to me, such as Yousuf Karsh – who became a friend and mentor in photography and many life lessons — and seemingly a whole family of Westons. While I am largely self-taught in the mechanics of exposure, developing and printing, it is the work and words of these masters that taught me not only how to “take a picture” but more importantly, how to “see” a photograph, and how photography can open doors to people, cultures, history and humanity.

Fairly early I came to realize that photography was not just for memorializing special events and milestones. It also records the ordinary details of the ordinary days that make up the majority of our lives; those common moments, places, faces and things that are so much a part of each day and ourselves, but are then gone with no record, save for our own mind’s memories. Knowing that it may be possible to get back to the places of our past, but not the times in which we lived them, I began recording what I saw, when I saw it, and not waiting for that “special” day or event.

Artist’s Statement

I have never set out consciously to create “art.” My photographs are neither preconceived, constructed nor manipulated. I tend to wander, watch and wait until something catches my eye, and then record on film without intrusion. In the words of Yogi Berra, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” I tend to see in shapes and tones, rather than the actual object or scene at hand. Sometimes there are people, but mostly there are the simple effects of people having been there and what they have left behind. In many instances, the ordinary has its own rhythm, harmony and abstract form while still retaining its “ordinariness.” Herein lies the art of the image.