Online Member of the Month: Robert A. Kamarowski (rkamarowski)

When he takes photographs, ArtScuttlebutt.com member Robert A. Kamarowski likes to shoot from the hip and on the street. His black and white prints, like The Ring, indicate a penchant for the unexpected. This is the way Kamarowski likes to approach his images from odd angles with a tendency toward abstraction.

The 58-year-old photographer (www.rkamarowski.com) has taken photos all over the world (Europe, Central America, South America and North Africa) and in cities across the country (New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Chicago). In the past, he traveled mostly with a road buddy. Now Kamarowski is accompanied almost exclusively by his wife and two stepdaughters. In a few weeks, the family will be leaving for New Zealand, where the oldest girl will be attending university in Auckland. Kamarowski looks forward to an opportunity to experience a new locale through his camera.

Architecture, especially, attracts Kamarowski, and he enjoys focusing on thought-provoking details. He has devoted a large amount of his oeuvre to places with distinctive regional styles as well as very specific architectural features like doorways and marquees.

“When you’re dealing with architecture, your perspective makes a big difference. It can become exaggerated,” he explains.

Kamarowski also tackles other subjects, such as nature and people, creating a large body of work spanning more than 12 years. While he has utilized digital photography in the past, Kamarowski ultimately prefers “slowing down the contemplation of film instead of snapping away.”

“I’m very interested in textures, patterns and the fall of light on a subject. I like to be able to pick something commonplace and have it presented in a different way so that people will be able to see something that they walk by everyday and take notice.”

Currently, Kamarowski shoots pictures with a medium format camera that uses 120 mm film. He uses alternative photographic processes to make his photographs, including cyanotype (a 19th-century method) and ziatype (an update of the platinum/palladium process), techniques that largely fell out favor but are now being revived by a small group of enthusiasts and collectors. He also experiments with incorporating watercolors, tea and coffee as toners and creating dichromatic prints by layering exposures. Because he handprints each image on demand and every printing is different, Kamarowski sees each of his photographs as the unique product of a series of spontaneous events in the darkroom.

“With each new process, it’s fun to go back and re-interpret old work. It’s fun because you never know what you’re going to get.”

Indeed, Kamarowski loves “the entire process” from “visualizing to the printing and all the steps in between.” Spending time in his darkroom leaves him feeling more aware creatively.

“Sometimes I get discouraged and frustrated too,” he admits, “but ultimately, I am enlightened.” PA

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