About the images

David Wolk


About the images


These photographs are neither about creativity or beauty, although as emergent properties, I hope both appear quietly and on their own. I seem to have been guided by a sense of structural harmonies and rhythms. These sometimes have risen to the status of the image's subject.


Often the sense of what I am photographing, what I think or believe I'm starting with, gives way to a totally new image as revealed through processing and printing. That distance is an energy that can be followed, often only faintly felt.


T.S. Elliot wrote in The Hollow Men,


Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow


Between the conception

And the creation

Between the emotion

And the response

Falls the Shadow



Brief history


My first camera was my father's Miranda D which we shared. I was 14 when I won a Cherry Blossom Festival photography contest which led to a job at two local newspapers, The Belleville Times and The Nutley Sun, shooting high school sports, local civic events and every now and then requests from the police to photograph accidents. To do this, the newspapers loaned me several Nikon cameras, lenses and flash, great equipment too expensive for my family to afford. I was paid a dollar for each photograph printed until they started printing many more images. Then I was paid $10 a week. This arrangement continued for the rest of high school and my father and I worked in the darkroom together making prints. He and I shared photography for the rest of his life.


The advent of digital photography, Photoshop and extremely high-quality digital printers allowed me the privacy and focus and facility to become fully immersed in a process of producing images;  the act of photography, the pleasure of the photograph, the slow process of seeing and working the image, the physical shift when the image is printed. I experienced this as an opportunity to understand a language that I had never fully questioned; black & white, color, cropping, representation, abstraction, shading, saturation, print size, even framing the print---what did these "mean?" Hundreds of decisions for each image and not any clear understanding of what I was doing.


Over time, I began to allow an exchange between the image and the work toward a print. At some point I take a photograph, see something that wants or demands or allows me to capture an image. Then later, looking at that image in my study, I begin to see what I might have been seeing that I didn't know; what aesthetic or social moment was alive just then.