Having started our lives together in high school you would be correct in referring to us as the proverbial "high school sweethearts". As a husband and wife creative team we have been collaborating for over 40 years. We began our photography career as a form of self-expression in the early 1970s. Influenced by the West Coast "school" of photography, the majority of our work through 2010 was created using a view camera. As early adopters of creative technology we began scanning our 4x5 images and processing them in 1990 using Adobe Photoshop version 1. While the quality did not support fine photographic prints, the images could be used for various displays and offset printing. As DSLR cameras improved we migrated from film to digital image capture and processing. Of particular interest is capturing motion and long sequences of time within a still image.
All of our work is a true collaboration. It has been from the beginning including our commercial work. From subject selection, to composition, to camera settings, to post production and printing we collaborate on each image from beginning to end.
The Land of Glittering Dreams Project
There was a day back in 1974 when we decided to take a day trip about a 100 miles or so from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We were on the hunt for subject matter. As we entered into the California foothills we passed an old abandoned cemetery just off of the road. We decided to turn back and explore it. Many of the gravestones were dated from the mid-1850's. Most of the residents of this lost town had distant birth places like Ireland and Italy. Except for this cemetery there was nothing around for miles. We couldn't help but wonder what brought these people together to live and die at this isolated spot? We exposed a few images and moved on.
Later that morning and little deeper into the foothills we ended up in the small gold rush town of Mokelumne Hill. We knew there was an area known as "the California Gold Country" but we didn't really know all that much about it or that it was so close to where we grew up. It's almost embarrassing to admit but at the time we knew little more about the gold rush then cliche and stereotypical impressions of "Gabby Hayes" type characters with gold pans. That would soon change.
There was something about the historic buildings, and the cemetery that stuck with us for many months. So, in 1975 we went back to further explore the area. The trip had an even larger impact on us from both a photographic sense as well as the historical significance of the place. It was then we decided to make it a project but we did not want to simply document the sites. Instead, we wanted to create a body of work that photographically interpreted the architecture, landscape and artifacts to convey an overall sense of the place and its significance. It became a project that continues to this day. As we learned (and continue to learn) more about the immense impact the gold rush had on California and the nation, the more fascinating and rewarding we have found making photographs in The Land of Glittering Dreams.
The Commercial years
Starting in the mid-1980s, and continuing for about 10 years, we ran a successful architectural photography business in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our clients were architects, interior designers, and many custom and production home builders. As a result our images appeared in many publications and other printed media. Our clients won countless architectural and home building awards using our photographs as the basis for their entries. The experience provided many benefits in addition to earning a living. It forced us to really learn how to see the "real" subject rather than the first impression.
Jo Ann and George live in Roseville, California. George is CEO of Escalet, Inc., a web development company. Both are actively involved with Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, California, where George previously served on the Board of Directors and teaches workshops.