Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Pete Turner - The Dr. No Of Photography
Pete Turner remains at the forefront of experimentation with new technology to create his most striking color images yet.
What distinguishes Pete Turner in the world of photography is that he's constantly innovating. In 1956, he graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology as part of the first class to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography. He helped steer album covers away from traditional portraits and into the realm of conceptual images. He experimented with color in the '50s, a time when only black-and-white photography was really considered art.
Turner's first major photo assignment, at the age of 24, was commissioned by Air-stream Trailer Company and involved traversing the entire length of the African continent by land—a pioneering endeavor in 1959. “Giraffe,” perhaps his most famous photograph, received a lot of attention when it was created in 1964, because it was unlike anything anyone had seen before. No one was using color filters yet, and manipulating an image the way Turner manipulated “Giraffe” was outrageous. But Turner wasn't afraid of trying new things.
His illustrious career is full of such firsts and never-been-done-befores. Turner has embraced change throughout his life, and the constant innovation has allowed him to produce a body of work that's visionary and distinctly his own. Turner's photographs hang in countless museums around the world, among them the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the International Center of Photography in New York. He has done a lot of commercial work, but his work also has been featured in magazines, from Look, Esquire and Sports Illustrated to Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer. He has photographed subjects that range from the 1973 volcanic eruption in Heimaey, Iceland, to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra in 1962.
More recently, Turner welcomed the advent of digital photography with open arms and was quick to adopt the newest technology in photography and printing. His home studio is equipped with the 131-pound Epson Stylus Pro 7800, a smaller Epson Stylus Pro 4800 and the latest addition to his collection (and his personal favorite), the desktop Epson Stylus Pro 3800. Turner likes that it uses sheet paper as opposed to roll paper, and he has become an aficionado of the Epson UltraChrome K3 inks and Epson's Premium Luster photo paper.
Obviously, Turner has developed a good relationship with Epson, but that's not simply a matter of a corporation looking for an endorsement. The company regularly sends him beta versions of its products to test-drive, and it actively solicits his opinion on what it should be doing with its professional photo printers. He admits to being vocal about what he likes and dislikes, which is exactly what Epson needs from him. No one understands color better than Pete Turner, and Epson relies on his expertise to refine its color printing technology.
Turner isn't just an expert at seeing color, he's an expert craftsman who has embraced the onslaught of digital technology with a child's enthusiasm. Instead of being overwhelmed and flustered by how quickly technology is changing, Turner is at the forefront of such change at the age of 72.
“It's all about change,” he says. “The real change in color photography is that this stuff is going to last—finally!”
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