John Bendel, Photographer, Island Heights, New Jersey (USA)


EWW: John, I am curious to know, if someone were asked to make a comment about your work as a whole, what do you think they would say?

John: They might say, “Well at least he’s consistent. After all these years, he’s looks for the same kinds of places.”


EWW: If I were to walk into an room which included works of yours as well as others, would I immediately know which ones were yours and why?

John: I’d like to think you might notice subject matter that interests you even before composition, color, or any other elements are considered. I’d hope the image has a three-dimensional quality and engages on more than one visual level.


Click on an image to enlarge it


EWW: Much of your work has some element of “urban settings.” What is it about the “Urban Settings” that interest you so much?

John: These places seem to distill civilization and history. They’re incredibly peaceful even as they bristle with imminent peril.


EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there any themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?

John: I tend to look at subjects directly with 90 degrees between the subject surface and the reflected light the camera records. It’s a straight-ahead thing that, if it cannot be captured on the camera sensor, I try to establish in processing after the fact. Can’t help myself; I’m almost religious about it.


EWW: Can you share with us a little bit of the inspiration for “Living Color Yard Long? What did you want the observer to experience with observing your work?

John: Living Color Yard Longs evolved over five years as I was drawn first to those deteriorating spaces, then to the paint left there by graffiti artists, and ultimately to those disciplined works overwritten by less intentional, often angrier artists, taggers, and vandals. The chaotic imagery, the colorful tumult, usually on interior walls leant itself to the elongated horizontal format we recognize now as 16:9. I loved it from the first wide screen movie I saw in the 1950s. The movie industry called it Cinemascope and deployed it do differentiate motion pictures from their perceived existential threat — television. To me it was a visual revelation in which every image becomes a landscape. The term yard long refers to the antique-store photos that were popular from the late 19th century to World War 2. The most visually adventurous were much longer and thinner than 16:9. I hope a viewer would see one of my yard longs as a 15-second adventure, as something to explore.


Click on an image to enlarge it.


EWW: Marketing these days seems to be quite a challenge for many photographers. What do you see as the biggest challenges for a photographer in terms of marketing?

John: Marketing itself. I have never understood how it’s really done. My only sales have come as a result of purely local shows and group exhibits. I have yet to enter or show any of the yard longs beyond my web site.


EWW: How are you dealing with these challenges?

John: Right now I’m putting together a presentation book in hopes 19 inch portfolio prints can represent what actual yard-long and longer prints will look like and the impression they will make.


Click on an image to enlarge it.


EWW: Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work? If you do, which social media platform seems to work the best for you?

John: No.


EWW: John, just to wrap up the interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work, that you think would be important for others to know about?

John: This is my second go-around with the camera. The first was from 1969 to 1975, when I put down the camera for all but family snap shots. I began again in 2005 and found I had to learn anew as a rookie, not just the digital equipment, but how to see, how to rediscover, trust, and follow my instincts. That should be the easiest thing, but of course, it isn’t.

Thanks very much for the chance to show my pictures and for your interest.




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