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.
How do we go beyond a record of a place and begin to make photographs that convey a real sense of place? The objective is not just to show what your destination looks like, but rather to convey, in photographs, what it felt like to be there.
“But the art in an artwork might not be located precisely where you thought it was. Perhaps it was just as much in the damage and decay as it was in the intact original. Perhaps it was in the gaps – in contemplating and rending those insults and injuries – that we find ourselves, by compassion; by bandaging, however imperfectly, those wounds. Art may be a species of faith, the assurance of things hoped for. It contains nothing so much as our wish that we persist.”
As photographers, we know that there is a fairly wide range of options available to us that change what was to what we show the world in our images. Every photograph is a composite of the choices we make as the person who eventually presents the image. Every photograph is an interpretation of the way the world really looks.
An early influence on my ways of thinking about photography on a deeper level was the great writer John Berger. A poet, novelist, artist screenwriter and more, Berger, born in 1926, and died just a few weeks ago, in January of 2017 at the age of 90. A read of Berger’s work gives great insight into what meaning we derive from looking, seeing and photographing.