Monday, June 11, 2007
Pete Turner - Carried By Color
After pioneering analog color techniques in the 1950s and 1960s, Pete Turner has turned his attention to working with digital technology to create his most visually captivating images yet
More than 40 years ago, photographer Pete Turner crafted the bold, surreal palette of colors that would define his work. Today, as his camera and computer become one, Turner creates images that continue to inspire us. He lives simultaneously in the worlds of science and art, skillfully using one to facilitate the other.
Recognized as a plain-spoken photographer-alchemist, Turner doesn't spend time analyzing why he photographs as he does. It's simply about “trusting your instincts.” Turner's satisfaction with an image comes from controlling color, choosing content and photographing with what he describes as “purpose.”
Born in Albany, N.Y., and raised in Canada, Turner's family moved to Rochester, N.Y., when he was a boy. He doesn't remember a time when he didn't want to be a photographer, but he specifically remembers the moment his eye was caught by the colors in an artist's paint box.
Drafted into the Army after graduation from RIT in 1956 and assigned to “keep the machinery going” at the Army's newly designed type-C color lab, Turner spent his time photographing and printing. When he left the service two years later, he had a portfolio of some 120 color prints. Those prints would win him the assignment that would launch his career.
Says Turner, “I was still a student at RIT when my teachers convinced me to start thinking of how I would make a living as a photographer when I graduated.” Introduced to the founders of the stock photography agency FPG, he started submitting his photographs while he was still in college. It was FPG that would introduce Turner to Airstream Trailers, which was looking for a photographer to travel across Africa for seven months. Using 300 rolls of Kodachrome film and three Nikon SP Range-finder cameras, he followed 43 trailers across the continent, from Cape Town to Cairo, 11,000 miles in 200 days.
From Africa, Turner wrote his parents that he had never seen “life…so pure, so simple.” He would return to Africa several times over the years. “It was on my first trip that I consciously realized the difference between finding an image and making one,” he says.