I grew up in Japan (ages 9-15) and lived in Kyoto for a year after my PhD while I worked in a lab at Kyoto University. Most of my free time was spent wandering the ground's of Kyoto's numerous shrines and temples. Japanese aesthetics have strongly influenced my art ever since.
As a kid in Japan my dad would order a 100 foot roll of Kodak SuperXX black and white 35mm film. We would then spool our own smaller rolls and I grew up with f-stops and shutter speeds, and processing my own film. But it was not until the mid-1990's, when I got my first 4x5 view camera and started attending workshops, that I became a serious photographer. Today's digital cameras are marvelous, and I could never go back to film, but I still kind of miss the joy of calmly composing upside down and backwards on the ground glass.
My career doing research in the emerging field of molecular biology influenced my photography. Part of working in science involves becoming comfortable dealing with numbers, chemistry, and trouble shooting reactions when they go wrong. Perhaps because of this training I enjoy trying out esoteric 19th century photo processes, mixing and spreading my own photo-emulsions and generally mucking around in the darkroom.
Somehow, alongside my Japanophilia, I also developed a strong taste for photography of the 19th century. I admire the work of Carleton Watkins in Yosemite, Alexander Gardner during the Civil War (beautiful in its own grisly way), and especially the portraits of Julia Margaret Cameron. I have studied the work of Adams, Weston, Cunningham, Uelsman, and other luminaries until I could practically draw their most important images from memory.
So, when I go out to photograph these days, all these influences are churning around in my subconscious, telling me when to click the shutter. And even more, when I get back home and start editing the images, this background guides my choices. The goal is to produce beautiful images that create an emotional connection with the viewer.
– Ron Reeder