CMC photography professor’s exhibit captures ‘Moments in Place’
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Who: Joseph Gamble
What: ‘Moments in Place’ opening reception
When: 6-8 p.m. on Friday; exhibit up through Oct. 28
Where: ArtShare Gallery in Glenwood Springs
How much: Free
French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the most revered pioneers of street photography, spoke often of the “decisive moment.” It’s that moment you press your finger down on the shutter, and it’s not arbitrary. It’s waited for patiently by the photographer with a vision.
Joseph Gamble, who is a professional photographer and professor of photography at the Isaacson School for New Media at Colorado Mountain College, is another photographer who waits for the decisive moment to come. He’s not one to point, shoot and hope for the best.
“I do carry a camera with me pretty much everywhere in case I find some sort of happy accident or serendipity in making a photograph, but usually it’s an active process,” Gamble said. “Like Cartier-Bresson said, you’re a browser, so you’re browsing life, and you’re dedicating time to take photographs. Typically that’s best achieved by walking or exploring a certain place, being really attentive and finding photographic possibility, and then camping it out and waiting for the human element — light, gesture, those sort of things — to collide to create a photograph that is successful.”
The latest exhibit at the CMC ArtShare Gallery in Glenwood Springs, “Moments in Place,” is a sort of retrospective of Gamble’s street photography from 2003 to the present, from New York, France, Italy and beyond.
Gamble is certainly not exclusively a street photographer, but the genre appeals to him because of its unique challenges.
“It requires a real mastery of technique and craft, and yet there’s some degree of anticipation that has to happen,” Gamble said. “And that, to me, makes it far more challenging than a number of other types of photography. The decisive moment is there for very much a fraction of a second, and there are no second chances with it. Many times I’ve learned valuable lessons from missing photographs that would have been really successful.”
Gamble started his formal photographic instruction in 1994, when he took his first photography course under a documentary and street photographer named Roswell Angier at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston.
“I was a photographer before that, but everyone with a phone now is a photographer,” Gamble said. “I think committing to formal instruction in that time as a college student was really the beginning of my interest in photography.”
At first, though, Gamble saw photography as tangential to his writing as a magazine journalist. But in 2003, he committed to formal graduate study in photography.
“I think it was a fortuitous step for me,” he said. “Ultimately I was driven to unify writing and photography, and it led me to really just explore photography more and more, and now writing is more of the tangent to photography.”
Part of the fun of “Moments in Place” for Gamble was being able to see his progress over the last 12 years and being forced to ask: What am I trying to say with my work?
“It’s been sort of revelatory because I realized now that I make a specific type of picture, and I’m looking for a specific type of thing, often, when I’m shooting,” he said. “And my success rate now in achieving that is very, very high, whereas in the past it was more of a search, and I didn’t have as much direction.”
While Gamble’s photographs in “Moments in Place” do follow the street photography theme, there is still quite a bit of variety in subject matter. In one photo, a woman jumps over a puddle. Another captures a crowd of people on a busy city street, some reflected in a restaurant window, others seated on the other side of it. Another, taken in Central Park, features a dog as the most visually interesting subject.
This variety is a result of the intentional way in which Gamble actively seeks his photographs.
“I’m not looking for something specific in terms of subject matter,” he said. “I’m just really paying attention to the possibilities of the moment.”
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