Photography was a gift. I came to it accidentally, as a second career. The great French photographer Brassai, who also took up photography for the first time midlife, describes it as a second birth that is more important than the first one, as it’s the discovery of one’s true vocation. These were my feelings when I developed my first roll of film. Immediately I felt that everything I’d experienced before had been especially to prepare me for this work, and it soon became the focus of my creative and professional life.
As I began to work, photography became a passion demanding complete dedication. I found this to be an ingenious art that makes one look more closely at myriad aspects of life and see them with fresh eyes. The challenge is to transform subjects observed in a three-dimensional world onto a flat piece of paper, while attempting to retain their original life force. This, I realized, is as much about thinking as seeing. When I look through my viewfinder, I have no expectations. Rather, I’m on a course of discovery. It doesn’t matter if the subject is a human face, an urban or natural landscape, or a still life of objects either precious or mundane. Always I can count on a shiver of surprise.
My circle of public collections includes, among others, the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where a recent direct sale of two photographs augments those donated to the museum in 2008 as part of the Vernon Collection. Private collectors, in addition to Marjorie and Leonard Vernon, include Carol Vernon, Robert Turbin, Alessandro F. Uzielli, and Michael Hawley.