September 25, 2014
This semester I am teaching a pilot section of a course called First-Year Seminar here at Hardin-Simmons University. These small classes are led by three-person teams: the teacher, a librarian, and a peer mentor. While designed to help equip students for academic success and facilitate a smooth integration into university life, the content matter of the course varies from teacher to teacher. Teachers share with students one of their areas of interest from outside their primary field of academic expertise. This fall, First-Year Seminar topics include “The Disney Version” and “Seuss-cess”.
My course—titled “Seeing in Time”—focuses (intentional pun) on the art of photography. We are exploring the history of art photography and the masters of several photographic styles. We will visit a number of museums and enjoy visits from guest photographers. For instance, we attended a lecture by photogravure printer Jon Goodman at The Amon Carter Museum. Photographer Carrie Isaacson came to our class and talk about her work. Chief Curator Judy Deaton led us on a tour of Abilene’s marvelous Grace Museum and the new Keith Carter photography exhibit, Ordinary Mysteries.
My students have begun using their cameras to experiment with the elements of composition. Eventually, working as a group, they will produce and show a PowerPoint presentation of their work intended for a specific audience and purpose.
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My photograph, “Empire State Building, 2010”, was one of 43 pictures in the Texas Photography Society’s 26th Annual Members Only Show–opened September 13 at Islander Art Gallery, Corpus Christi through October 13, 2013. It received one of 5 honorable mentions among over 600 images judged by Elizabeth Krist, Senior Photo Editor for National Geographic. To see the 43 accepted photos, see:
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Fourteen of my photographs and an accompanying essay were published in the 2013-2014 issue of The Langdon Journal of the Arts in Texas, published by Tarleton State University.
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The exhibit, Timeless Paris: Street photography by Larry E. Fink, was on display for the month of September (2013) at the Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center in Granbury, Texas. Below find the “Photographer’s Statement” that accompanies the exhibit:
T I M E L E S S P A R I S
Street Photography by Larry E. Fink
My first camera came in a yellow and black box with an instruction manual, a wrist strap, flashcubes, batteries, and a cartridge of black and white film. The next one or two came with color film, and I didn’t return to shooting black and white until my senior year of high school, when I found my brother’s Kodak Pony 135 in his closet after he went away to college. Those first black and white snapshots gripped me like few of my pictures have done since. Seeing my neighborhood and friends translated into black and white was startling. Other people, too, seemed to be briefly arrested by my snapshots; it seems we had quickly gotten used to seeing amateur photography in color.
In college, I discovered a group of European artists–many of them French–who continue to inspire me, the so-called humanistic photographers of the 1930s-1960s. Because they captured the everyday beauty of ordinary life in public places, their work has come to be called street photography. They were masters of composition and timing, but they also consistently affirmed the dignity of humanity and expressed respect and affection for the individual. Their pictures are significant because they quietly and persistently affirm civility.
I have made street pictures I’m happy with in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Prague, and several Texas cities. But I’m using this first show to exhibit only Paris pictures. Paris is where this approach began and remains an ideal place to pursue it. Eventually, I hope to share my work from other cities, including Abilene, where I’ve been living since the ‘70s. For now, here are some of my attempts to shoot in the humanistic tradition, in the city where the practice began.
I grew up in rural Chester County, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, my family moved to Texas, where I took degrees from Abilene Christian College, Hardin-Simmons University, and Texas A&M University. I have been teaching English at Hardin-Simmons (Abilene, Texas) for twenty-five years. Before that I taught at Northwestern College (Orange City, IA) and Texas A&M University. My research interests include Milton, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and Walker Percy. My long-term involvement with photography has resulted in the publication of a pictorial biography–with Rolland Hein of Wheaton College–George MacDonald: Images of His World. I also shot the illustrations for The Armstrong Browning Library, for Baylor University. I thank Hardin-Simmons University and HSU’s Cullen Fund for Faculty Enrichment for their continuous and generous support of my scholarly and creative efforts. Cathy and I are celebrating forty years of marriage this year. We have three children and two grandchildren.