Photographer Jeffrey Curto is Coordinator and Professor of Photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he has taught since 1984. Courses frequently taught include History of Photography, Digital Imaging. Compositional Structure, Color Photography and other advanced techniques.
Prior to employment at College of DuPage, Curto worked extensively as a freelance photographer, specializing in event and public relations photography, architectural interiors and exteriors, portrait and product photography. Further, Curto worked in the photo-processing industry for two years, primarily as a custom photographic printer.
Curto was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1981 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1983. Additionally, he attended Ansel Adams' last workshop in Carmel, California in 1983.
In recent years, Curto's primary photographic subject has been Italy; he has traveled there frequently since 1989. While it is the country's landscape and architectural qualities that interest him, it is not the large, expansive view which draws his attention. Rather, he chooses to examine selected fragments of the Italian environment, seen in quiet, intimate glimpses. In this way, luminously peaceful courtyards, sunlight on ageless monuments and the warmth radiating off of grapes ripening on the vine are all given equal importance as subject matter.
Curto sees his choice of subjects this way: "All of my photographs are based on the medium's predilection towards making a mountain out of a molehill. The process of photography has a way of transforming ordinary objects into extraordinary phenomena."
His fascination with Italy's landscape and architecture is further enhanced by a love for its food, wine and art, and by an appreciation for the deep and seemingly countless layers of history that pervade everything Italian. "I attempt to use light, lens and time to bring the country's cool mornings, hazy afternoons and simple beauties home with me", Curto says.
His use of the large format view camera, which produces a negative 4x5" in size, combined with the choice of black & white materials gives Curto great control over the photographic process, allowing him to make prints of subtle detail and tone.
Every new idea is just a restatement of old ideas, or sometimes it’s several old ideas combined into a new one. Collecting ideas as you go along is a great way of mining new ways of thinking of things.
I use an Idea Bank to hold my ideas so I can use them at a later time.
For a long time, I’ve used a plain old folder to hold things like quotations, objects, articles, pictures and other ephemera. What I like about a physical folder is that I can pull the objects out from time to time and physically associate them with one another as I try to create new ideas out of things I’m interested in.
Each year, I take small groups of students to Italy for an intense week of photography and learning. Some destinations vary, but a constant is the workshop In Search of the Personal: Photographing Southern Tuscany, where my goal is to help my students tap into their personal way of seeing the world. This past summer, seven photographers went to the same locations but came home with dramatically different images, as they saw Tuscany with their own personal style in mind.
Watching a group of students just getting started in photography reminded me about how we reach “escape velocity” in photography. Their positive experience was based on time, concentration, idea and craft.
Leaving home can not only allow you to view your personal environment with new eyes, but the new experiences you find when you’re away can also help you see the world in a different way. Here I use some examples of how something that was not inherently about being “away” prompted me to experiment with light, reflection and transparency.