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.
A lot of people who are “into” photography seem to think of the “doing” of photography as the end unto itself. While the mechanical act of making photographs can be pleasurable, I think of photography as a medium for self-examination, not a pursuit unto itself.
The American abstract expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn (1922 –1993) is noted not only for his great work, but also for his thoughts about the creative process. Diebenkorn’s “Notes to myself on beginning a painting” is a list of 10 things to think about as we begin any creative work – we can think of them as “10 Rules for Getting Started.”
There’s an old adage in photography: “inside every 8×10” print, there is a really excellent 5×7” image waiting to be found.” That old saw is the foundation for an exercise that I’ve used for myself and in my classes over the years; take an image that you’ve made and search for alternate cropping choices that might strengthen the composition. Regardless of whether you find a “better” photograph, you learn a fair amount about how to see.
A listener asked where the logo for Camera Position came from, which gave me an impetus to talk about that photograph and the concept of the Lone Tree image – a compulsory photograph for nearly every photographer.
When we position the camera, we are ultimately positioning the viewer of our photographs. We explore this idea using a 1757 painting by the Venetian Painter Canaletto, who often used a camera obscura to create his paintings.
Thanks to Dirk Rösler and the folks at the Large Format Photography Forum for setting these wheels in motion. Check out some of the conversations we’re having on Facebook and Flickr about photography and ideas.