The photography of Wynn Bullock in On Photography on Photofocus
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On Photography: Wynn Bullock, 1902-1975

“Mysteries lie all around us, even in the most familiar things, waiting only to be perceived.” -Wynn Bullock

Wynn Bullock started out as a singer. He was a chorus member in Irving Berlin’s “Music Box Review” on Broadway. He studied voice in Europe and performed concerts in France, Germany and Italy. He discovered the work of photographers Man Ray and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. He realized he could engage the world through an art form based only on light. He bought a camera and began making photographs. It was the mid-1920s.

After the Depression

Bullock became more and more involved with alternative photographic processes like bas-relief and solarization. An early exhibit of his experimental work was held at the L.A. County Museum. It was one of his first solo shows. He worked as a commercial photographer, then enlisted in the Army. He left the service to photograph the aircraft industry working for Lockheed.

After World War II

Wynn-Bullock-by-Imogen-Cunningham_Ryan-Gallery-at-AI
Wynn Bullock, portrait by Imogen Cunningham

Bullock traveled throughout California producing and selling postcards in a co-owned commercial photography business in Santa Maria. He worked on methods of controlling the line effects of solarizations and was awarded two patents.

Exploring “straight” photography

Wynn Bullock met Edward Weston in 1948. He was inspired by the beauty of Weston’s prints so he began to practice “straight” photography. He developed a deep connection with nature as he explored his own vision. Bullock came known to the public at large when two of his prints were chosen to appear in Edward Steichen‘s “Family of Man” exhibit at MOMA. The photos, “Let There Be Light” and “Child in Forest” were favorites of visitors to the exhibit. They are in the upper left and upper center of the opening photo respectively.

Color

During the early 1960s, Bullock left black and white and became immersed in color photography creating a large body of work called “Color Light Abstractions.”

For him, these photographs represented an in-depth exploration of light, manifesting his belief that light is a great force at the heart of all being, “perhaps,” as he said, “the most profound truth in the universe.” Although he was tremendously excited about this work, it proved to be ahead of its time in terms of available resources to reproduce it, and it remained largely unknown for almost 50 years. –Biographical Notes prepared by Barbara Bullock-Wilson 2010

In 2008, Bullock’s estate started making high-resolution scans of his original Kodachrome slides. From the scans came archival prints that have been exhibited and published. Bullock’s color work is finally receiving the attention it so very much deserves.

Return to black & white

Frustrated with the color printmaking materials of the time, Bullock reembraced black and white photography. He expanded his vision by making innovative images that spoke of his philosophical nature. He used many techniques — long exposures, multiple images, negative printing to name some of them — to express new ways of relating to the world. He summed it up this way, saying:

“Searching is everything — going beyond what you know. And the test of the search is really in the things themselves, the things you seek to understand. What is important is not what you think about them, but how they enlarge you.”

and

“When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”

Center for Creative Photography

Bullock’s work was cut short by cancer. His archives became a cornerstone for the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography along with Ansel Adams, Harry Calahan, Aaron Siskind and Fredrick Sommer.

Thanks to http://www.wynnbullockphotography.com for his biography excerpted here.

On Photography features mini-bios and images of inspirational photographers.

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