NVAL 2016 Regional Juried Photography Show Award Winners

JUROR –  Michael Eichwald – Bio

Michael Eichwald is an award winning photographer living in Redding. While in Europe as a young student he was strongly influenced by an uncle who was a professional photographer in London, and also by a second uncle who was active in the academic study of art and visual perception. From these early experiences came a continuing interest in visual aesthetics.  For many years his personal photography took a back seat to the practice of dermatology. With retirement, however, he was able once again to pursue his interest in what makes one image art and another simple craft, as well as to actively support the local appreciation of creative photography.  He is an active member of the North Valley Art League, and for some years was the chairperson for the league’s Regional Juried Photography Show. His participation in the local visual art world includes membership in the North State Photography association, Artist’s Gathering, and the Salon Artists Group. Mike’s interest in judging comes, then, from a broad perspective that includes a continuing desire to recognize, define, and encourage photography as an art form. He has judged local competitions and was named a preliminary judge for the prestigious Michael Kellicutt Juried Competition of 2011.



“Real art makes demands. Comfortable art is mediocre.”   —  Sister Wendy Beckett
Every passing year the quality of our regional photography gets better and better, which makes it that much harder to judge. All of the entries were good photographs, but the accepted ones had in common something that the others might have lacked: they clearly presented the subject as art, and not just documentation.
I am treading on dangerous ground when I reply to the question of just what I mean by art, but here goes anyway: art is for us an expression or impression of something that goes where words cannot. Music might be the clearest example of this.
As to “Photography as Art,” I rely heavily on the accepted nomenclature that can be classified under the basic headings of technique, form, and content.
Technique, it goes without saying, simply means a mastery of one’s tools in a manner appropriate for the content and meaning of the picture.
Form has several different definitions, but for our purposes it shall mean how the elements of design and technique are put together to create a visually balanced and harmonious Whole. It is this criterion that is, for me, a most important factor in judging artistic quality. I like to advise young artists that “how it looks” is more important than “what it is.”
Content refers to whatever impression or expression the artist intends to convey.  This might, and probably should, include such elements as originality, imagination, evocation, impact….
All of the pictures on these walls fill my criteria admirably, but happily in widely individualistic and satisfying ways. The traditional landscapes you see here are uniquely original in their capture, particularly as to color (I see color as “color chords”)
and the subtleness of tonality. In addition we have examples of composite humor hanging next to an artistic capture of a natural object (more than “just another flower….”), and then even an extreme abstraction (think music again).
Finally, it is evident that we as photographers have definitively entered the digital era full force. It is my firm belief that we as artists and appreciators are the better for it.
Editing and manipulating photographs as art is nothing new, but now we have the additional power of modern digital cameras and the incomparable versatility of computerized scanning and editing (read Photoshop). This incredible capability is
simply a new artistic palate with which to exercise our creativity, and here there are many fine examples of what might be called the New Frontier.
Michael Eichwald