CURRENCY: by Seth Dickerman

a pop-up exhibition

Large-format photographic prints by Seth Dickerman


1141 Howard Street, SF

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About the Work

The coins and bills from which these portraits were photographed are history books in disguise.  They bear witness to change: physical, historical and philosophical.  Our perception of these presidents has changed over time, as have these artifacts which carry their images.

These images have traveled a circuitous path.  Each began as a portrait drawn, painted, or photographed directly from their living subject.  These portraits were then rendered, as line drawings for bills, or as sculptural reliefs for coins.

These renderings were then greatly reduced, and used to make printing plates or minting dyes, which were subsequently used to produce the bills and coins.  They were endowed with monetary value, and sent out into the world.

They have been passed from person to person, place to place, past to present. Spent and saved, gained and lost, each has been marked by its own unfathomable journey.

Currency was featured in the SF Chronicle


Technical Information - a Journey Continued

The coins and bills were photographed at extremely high magnification with a 4x5” view camera and black and white film (the coin an inch or two in front of the camera lens, and the film as much as 16” behind the lens).  A miniature spotlight was positioned with the sharply focused filament of the bulb grazing the surface of the coin.  The slight ridge on the edge of the coin created the initial shadow, allowing the features of the portrait to be lit in bright relief.  The portraits on the bills were made the same way, with the light source less sharply focused.

The resulting 4x5” negatives were then projected by means of a photographic enlarger to make 20x24” silver gelatin prints.  These prints were subsequently scanned digitally and enlarged again to make the archival pigment prints in this exhibition.  In the case of the 40x50” prints, the bills have been enlarged by 3,500%, and the coins have been enlarged by ratios from 6000% to 10,000%.  At this scale the coins would average 6 feet in diameter,  and the bills would be nearly 8 feet tall by 18 feet wide.

Artist’s Statement

My interest in images of presidents began in childhood.  In the early 1960’s, iconic images of  American presidents were ubiquitous.  We didn’t have the constant stream of dramatic imagery then that we have now - there were fewer idols, fewer heroes.

The Presidency was generally respected and celebrated. It was a simpler and more optimistic time in America.  By the 1960's much changed.  The Viet Nam war raged on, and Richard Nixon was president.  I began photographing Nixon from television and newspapers and have been exploring presidential imagery ever since.

The seed of this particular project was planted on a spring day in 1986, when I was struck by the dignity of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s portrait on a silver dime.

This was during the administration of Ronald Reagan, whose cheerful portraits seemed to me to be those of a fictional character, at best. I decided then to photograph FDR on his dime, in part to illustrate the contrast with Reagan.

The tainted election of a smirking George W. Bush in 2000 brought what one might have thought to be the ultimate insult to the institution of the presidency.  I began to look more deeply at the presidents on our currency - a rather obvious link between money and power.  I made the 10 photographs in this series, printing them as 20x24” silver-gelatin prints.

I had thought the project finished - until the shocking and tainted election of Donald Trump in 2016 induced me to revisit the project.

I have used digital tools to go deeper into the work, by exposing greater detail, by increasing scale, and by further manipulating light and shadow in ways that I could not do in the darkroom.

When the 20x24’s were first shown in San Francisco, in 2000, it did not strike me as especially significant that these images of presidents were all of white men.  Today, 19 years later, the significance of this is painfully apparent. Despite setbacks, much progress has been made since then - and we clearly have good reason to believe that a female presidency is at last in sight.

May we recover from this benighted administration, and learn from our past!

Seth Dickerman
January, 2019


Forage From Fire - an interview with Norma Quintana

Tragedy struck Northern California in 2017 when the Atlas Peak Wildfire ripped through Napa County. Entire communities were reduced to piles of ash and precious family treasures were lost forever.

For photographer Norma Quintana, the remnants of her home provided a stark backdrop for mourning, healing, and a fascinating series of images.

Norma’s Forage From Fire series features photographs of her charred personal items, set against the black gloves that first-responders used to sift through the rubble.

Recently, we sat down with Norma to chat about her incredible career as a photographer, printing her work at Dickerman Prints, and her exhibition at SF Camerawork.

What was the first camera you remember using?

As far as I can remember, I had a camera on me all the time and recall having a 35mm KODAK INSTAMATIC 104 camera.  Color of course!

How did your love of photography grow?

My academic background is in Sociology.  I obtained a post graduate degree in the social science and justice.  I share this because my interest has always been in gathering and analyzing evidence.  Photography was a natural fit for me as I began to document.

I learned the craft of photography class by class, shot 35 mm, black and white then moved on to a medium format camera. The Forage From Fire was done with the iPhone camera and is my first ever digital and color body of work.  The learning curve has been dramatic.

What is the most impactful photograph you've ever created?

Such a great question! I would say the Forage From Fire Glove image with a burned camera.

You studied under Mary Ellen Mark, Graciela Iturbide, Sally Mann, and Shelby Lee Adams. How does their tutelage influence your photography today?

I learned a great deal from these icons! So many lessons!  Graciela Iturbide taught me compassion, Shelby Lee Adams: dedication and commitment to a project and Mary Ellen Mark, grit.  Sally Mann shared her wisdom.

What led you to co-found PhotoAlliance and how are you still involved with the organization today?

I had wanted to create and support a photography culture in the Bay Area. I was on the Board of Directors for up to 10 years and attend their amazing lecture series.  It is a jewel in the art community. (learn more about Photo Alliance here)

Your Forage From Fire series has gained a lot of media attention, and is currently featured in an exhibition at SF Camerawork.

Before jumping into the work itself, would you be willing to share a personal story from the Atlas Peak wildfire (that has nothing to do with photography)?

Prior to the fire I had been consumed by Hurricane Maria.  My immediate family is from Puerto Rico.  As life would have it, I had been trying to reach my aunt and cousin who live on the island and had not been successful. I was on high alert.

On the day I learned that we had lost my home and studio of over 25 years to the firestorm, I received a call from my aunt who was worried for my safety.  I learned she was safe and I shared that I had lost my home.  My aunt sent her blessings.

Forage From Fire is an incredibly personal project, focusing on personal items that were rescued from your home and studio. Can you share a bit of your inspiration for the series?

The creation of Forage From Fire was uber organic and unplanned!  It was so innate in me to forage for recognizable items on the burned site. I remember thinking …. this is my personal 9-11. I was not really inspired but more compelled to document. The loss was about home.

How did you choose which objects to feature?

All the objects were found with the use of a sifter.  In my home I was the collector … so I knew the genesis of my physical world.  Also, I focused on what would fit with a glove.

You used an iPhone X to create the images in Forage From Fire. As someone who traditionally uses film as your medium, can you describe the experience of using such a different camera?

I have always believed that creating images is not about the camera!  With that in mind, I would say that the issue for me was the use of color.  Also, it is the first time I created work digitally.

Can you describe your process and setup for creating the images in Forage From Fire?

I foraged using a industrial respirator mask and a sifter created for me by a volunteer in a winery.  They knew there was going to be demand for people who were looking through their wreckage.  I recall finding artifacts and immediately wanting to photographed them and upon my return to the temporary home I was in… started to photograph as I always do… with available light .

There's a certain beauty in the contrast of your burned treasures against a black rubber glove. How did that concept come to be? Was everyone given those gloves when they returned to their home, or did you borrow a few from the cleanup crew?

The gloves were given to me by first responders.  We were all given masks and masks!  Initially, there was extensive smoke and everything destroyed.

You mention that your project has had a deep impact on those recovering from the trauma of the fire. Can you describe how that impact manifests itself?

I have heard from so many people that they find the images both staggering and hopeful… some even said liberating.  I believe they see a person who lost everything and had a story to tell.

I have heard from strangers across the world… via social media platforms.  I have also received art books and prints from people who I have somehow touched with Forage From Fire.

 Seth Dickerman and Norma Quintana go through Forage From Fire test prints. Seth Dickerman and Norma Quintana go through Forage From Fire test prints.

You have been working closely with Dickerman Prints to prepare your images for the Camerawork exhibition. Can you describe what that process has been like?

Working with Seth, Gabriel, and Garnell are my dream team. I knew I was in great hands when I learned they had started in the dark room. They approach the work as artisans.

Thanks again for your time. Before we go, do you have any words of wisdom for photographers starting their careers?

  • Remember that photographs are not taken they are created!

  • Try everything: photojournalism, landscape, portraiture etc.

  • Study the work of other photographers.

  • Get your hands on photo artbooks.

  • Learn the craft of photography.

  • Photograph when you have something to say.

 Gabriel Aguilar and Norma Quintana with a framed print from Forage From Fire. Gabriel Aguilar and Norma Quintana with a framed print from Forage From Fire.

Forage From Fire debuts at SF Camerawork on October 4. Learn more here.

To view more of Norma’s work, visit

Exploring the LGBTQ community with Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover

We had the pleasure of talking with local photographers – Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover – about their work and the LGBTQ community.

Saul and Sandra have been deeply involved with the LGBTQ moment since they first shot it back in the 1980's. This body of work has grown immensely over the years and became the focus of both of their careers.

Their ultimate goal for this series was to show what it was like 25-30 years ago when the gay community was marching for it's civil rights, fighting AIDS, and coming together as a community; and, what's it's like now for many LGBTQ teens who we found to be confident, open, and happy to be who they are.

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERY:What inspired you to get involved with the movement?

SAUL BROMBERGER: “Motivation for me started back in the 80’s when coverage of the movement was just beginning in local newspapers. At the time I worked for SF chronicle, and there were male photographers with telephoto lenses running around snapping shots. Working with a newspaper, I knew how photography could impact people’s lives.

The problem I saw was that most photographers would only focus on the nudity and the flamboyant nature of the movement; basically showcasing only the outrageous and crazy aspects of the community, but they didn’t focus on the actual community. It labeled the LGBTQ community as ‘crazy and wild,’ and this angered me.”

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

DPG: What did you want to portray by shooting the LGBTQ community?

SB: "I wanted to tell people's stories by show casing the little moments that I witnessed. It was about showing the side where parents are supporting their children and the community.

Back when we first started shooting the Pride movement, there was still a lingering ghost of AIDS.  I I wanted my photographs to help raise awareness about AIDS and the people dying from it. I wanted to bring light to the movement and show that it a civil rights movement before anything else, because that wasn't how it was being portrayed in the newspapers at the time."

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

DPG: Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

SB: "One of my biggest influences would be Eugene Smith. One of his most famous projects was working with Minamata disease (caused by mercury poisoning) in Japan. His dramatic photographic essay brought world attention to Minamata disease and conveyed the idea of passion and the hopefulness. This to me was incredible and life affirming and I wanted to incorporate this into my work.

Another incredible influence I had would be Bruce Davidson. I was inspired by his project shooting scenes of urban poverty on East 100th Street in New York. He was aiming to bring change and awareness to a population that was often left ignored and deemed 'ghetto,' when there was so much more to it than that. He worked hard to balance the dire situations that residents lived in with moments of beauty and resilience. It was also a common thread throughout his life’s work."

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

DPG: You've been shooting Pride since the 80's, what do you think has changed the most about it over the years?

SB: "I think one of the biggest elements that has changed about Pride is that back in the 80's people were marching for their civil rights. People would wait all year for Pride to be with the one that they loved. Some people even risked losing their job if they were caught attending Pride by their work.

In the last few years, ever since same sex marriage was legalized, I have noticed much more corporations have been involved. This is a great– don't get me wrong, but I feel like it's become more about promoting brands rather than be about the core of the movement itself, civil rights.

This year; however, with the Trump administration, I've been seeing a lot more resistance and the come back of fighting for civil rights and equality for all."

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

Interested in shooting civil rights movements like Saul and Sandra?

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Get close and once you feel like you're close, get closer! 
This will not only help keep your photos direct and less busy, but you will be able to capture the smaller details and moments that a lot of people miss when shooting with a telephoto lens.

2. It's about Interpreting a scene, how do you want people to feel?
Ask yourself why you are there with a camera. What is it that you want to capture while shooting?

3. Don't be afraid to talk to people! 
Introduce yourself and remember to always be respectful when shooting. It's about making connections with people and learning their story and capturing their light and love.

4. Timing is everything! 
Every good documentary photographer knows that it's about waiting for the story telling elements to come together and then shooting in the moment.

5. Bring different lenses. 
This will help create a diverse body of work and make capturing different images easier.

 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990 From the archive   'The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Freedom Day Parade: 1984-1990

To learn more about Saul and Sandra's work and for contact information, please visit their website.

Sumeet Banerji & The Shroomscapes Series

By examining our world from the viewpoint of a Portobello Mushroom, Sumeet Banerji's Shroomscapes strives to challenge how we see and interpret beauty.

Each photograph begins with Sumeet zooming in on his fungal subjects, giving the viewer a new awareness of its structure and design.

Using only a cylindrical pinhole camera with 120mm film, Sumeet produces his images using a 2 hour exposure time. The result – beautiful, detailed photographs that leave you wanting more.

. . .

After spending the summer working on Shroomscapes during his residency at Dickerman Prints, Sumeet sat down with us to chat about photography, pinhole cameras, life, and mushrooms.

To experience Sumeet's work, please join us on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at Dickerman Prints Gallery for an opening night reception for The Residents. (RSVP HERE)

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERYHow did you get started in photography?

SUMEET BANERJI: "As a child, I practiced drawing in an obsessive way. I was a little nuts. I felt it was foundational to establishing a visual language, like if I could learn how to draw, I would be able to speak through pictures. Drawing trains you how to communicate where things are in space. It makes you understand how to make something look large or small. When you study drawing, you are really learning how the human brain processes the visual field.

Drawing was my start in photography. I think that my photographic work now is often a deliberate manipulation of the perceived scale and viewpoints of things. These trends in my photographs are in large part due to my drawing practice."

DPG: What does photography mean to you?

SB: "For me, it’s a kind of puzzle, a way to challenge the mind. You have to be able to look at a three dimensional visual field and have an intuition about how it is going to flatten visually.

Using a pinhole camera with film, the way I shot the Shroomscapes, there was no viewfinder so I couldn’t see what I was doing at all. I calculated and visualized what I could–after that it was a complete mystery until I developed the film."

DPGWhat has your biggest challenge been as a photographer?

SB: "I want people to come back to my pictures many times and always find new things. That’s the basic aim: to make a picture that doesn’t lose its impact over time. I’ve found the best way to do this is through my editing process.

Often, I won't look at the pictures I've taken for a long time, creating the possibility of an emotional disconnection. It has to feel like someone else’s work before I can be objective. In the case of The Shroomscapes, I didn’t look at them for five years. If I look at work I’ve made after a long time and still feel an emotional connection to it, I put it out."

DPGWith your shroomscape series- what was your process with the pinhole camera? What were some of the challenges of this project for you?

SB"The Shroomscapes are made with extremely low tech items. There is no post processing/manipulation. The prints show exactly what was captured on film. The images were made with a cylindrical box (pinhole camera), a portobello mushroom and 120mm film. The warping (in this case straightening) effect is from how the film was wound. The pinhole camera was put right inside the portobello mushroom, within an inch of the stalk so there was very little light. The film had to be exposed for two to three hours.

It is a photographic take on the very old tradition of still life painting. The long exposures made it like oil painting where the image could be manipulated slowly and deliberately.

There is an essay called 'In Praise of Shadows' by the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki that talks about the beauty of shadows and dark spaces. I wanted to capture an image that was in almost total darkness, showing us something from the real world that we can only see through the photographic process–darkness and shadows.

The images that resulted were tonally delicate. Small shifts and inconsistencies in the printing dramatically change the impact of the images. Gabriel, Seth and Garnell at the studio were able to bring the pictures to life in the real world in a very special way."

DPG: What is the future of this body of work?

SB: "I want to expand the series, take more Shroomscapes. Possibly a survey of different species of mushrooms taken with pinhole cameras. I also want to create a series of Cabbagescapes, Avocadoscapes, and maybe even Flowerscapes."

DPGDo you have any new projects you’d like to tell us about?

SB: "I am starting to release my pictures in a series of volumes. It's going to be a collection of my photographic work in books with small pigment prints inserted into the books. It's a good way to see and own all the work in physical form.

Volume 1 contains four series (including the Shroomscapes) with essays and is coming out this month."

To see more of Sumeet Banerji's work and for contact information, please visit his website.

Igniting A Revolution: An interview with Kelly Johnson

For fifteen years, Kelly Johnson has been documenting progressive movements. 

From the climate movement, to Black Lives Matter, the fight to increase minimum wage, Kelly Johnson aims to show humans healing the sick systems and institutions we ourselves created.

We recently sat down with Kelly to discuss her time as an artist-in-residence at Dickerman Prints, as well as her thoughts on photography, life, and the revolution. To experience Kelly's work, please join us for the opening night reception of The Residents.

Thursday, September 28, 2017
6:00 - 9:00pm

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERY: What portfolio or project are you currently working on during your residency at Dickerman Prints?

KELLY JOHNSON: "I am working on a project called Direct Action, depicting activists working for various issues by stopping business as usual."

DPg: Can you tell us one of your favorite stories from your life as a photographer?

KJ"One of my favorite times I experienced as an activist/documentary photographer was my time at #Occupy SF. I slept in a tent in downtown SF for 3 months and built relationships with activists all over the bay."

DPgI’m sure, like most of us, you have a point in time where photography caught a hold of you. When did you become a photographer in earnest?

KJ"As a child I moved 18 times by the time I was 18 so I was always saying goodbye to friends and family so I was always taking photos. When I was 21 I started working at a lab and getting shooting gigs and started my own business and one day I realized omg I’m a photographer. I was 25 at the time and have been shooting professionally ever since."

DPg: Out of your movement portfolio, do you have one in particular that was your favorite to shoot?

KJ: "The bay bridge image is my most popular and famous image and I was very honored to be invited to that action. I will say I was so excited that I did not shoot that much that day so I was lucky to get such an iconic image."

DPG: You do abstract painting as well. Which medium do you prefer and why? 

KJ"My abstract work is photoshop collage of images that I do various things to in photoshop. I have worked in oils and acrylic with collage but photoshop is so fun and unlimited."

DPGDo you have any suggestions for those who want to get involved with shooting movements?

KJ"The reason I document the progressive movement is because it is the single most important movement in human history. The life and health of the species is resting on the success or failure of the humans who stand up to save us all. If we fail we are done here. So my advice is care."

DPG: Any new projects that you have in the works? 

KJ"After being in the bay for 5 years now, I have decided to restart my portrait business here in the bay. I am very interested in working with local artists and doing editorial portraits that are interesting and unique, that the artist and I build in collaboration. I have already started working with a couple artists but have yet to start shooting."

To see more of Kelly Johnson's work and for contact information, please visit her website.






An Interview with Jordan Reznick

Meet Jordan Reznick (pronoun: they) — photographer, scholar, activist, educator, and artist-in-residence at Dickerman Prints.

Jordan's passion is photographing communities of people with whom they are intimate: exploring both the agency and vulnerability of their subjects.

Jordan Reznick's Queer Babes series — which is the centerpiece of their residency at Dickerman Prints — was recently exhibited at Aperture Foundation in New York and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco, as well as being honored with a feature in Vice i-D Magazine.

Some of Jordan's other work includes a series documenting a cooperative community in Oregon — where they lived — and an in-depth exploration of their immediate and extended family.

Jordan received a BFA in Photography from New York University, and an MFA in Photography and an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Currently, Jordan is a PhD Candidate in Visual Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

To experience Jordan's work, please join us on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at Dickerman Prints Gallery for an opening night reception for The Residents. (RSVP HERE)


Jordan Reznick: "My father was a photographer. I grew up admiring his strange photographs and smelling darkroom chemicals. He taught me to use a manual camera when I was ten. I’ve been photographing ever since. "

 Oriah twists (2011),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life Oriah twists (2011),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life


JR: "I take photographs of people. For years I avoided photographing people because of the power relationship involved and my own discomfort with the interaction—I’m pretty shy. However, over the years, I realized that all of my favorite photographs are photographs of people. In a photograph you can stare at some one in the face at length in a way you rarely can in person. Photographs of people captivate me in a way that landscapes never do.

However, because of the power relationship involved and the politics of representation, I choose to only photograph people with whom I am intimate or have a shared sense of vulnerability. I want my images to be honest and vulnerable, and I also want my subjects to feel that they have power over how they’re represented."

 Rhae, San Francisco, California (2017), from Queer Babes Rhae, San Francisco, California (2017), from Queer Babes


JR: "I’m working on the Queer Babes project. It’s a portrait series that explores the complexity of gender identity and beauty within the queer and trans community today."

 Christiaan, Rosemead, California (2016), from Queer Babes Christiaan, Rosemead, California (2016), from Queer Babes


JR: "I began the project by photographing my friends and lovers, but since then the project has expanded to include new people I meet and people that I had not met until approaching them about the project. Many people that I did not know before, I now count as my friends. I feel really lucky in that way.

I photograph each person in or around their home when possible. I don’t plan the photograph beforehand, but try out several settings once I arrive for the shoot. There is sometimes a sort of collaboration about outfits and backgrounds, but it really depends on the person. Every shoot is an entirely different experience. Sometimes making photographs is only a small fraction of what we do."

 Eric, San Francisco, California (2016), from Queer Babes Eric, San Francisco, California (2016), from Queer Babes


JR: "We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life is a project exploring my family. I photographed my immediate and extended family in different parts of the country, exploring what it was like to photograph while experiencing shared vulnerability with my photographic subjects. I photograph from a place that is embedded within my relationships with my subjects rather than as an outside observer. "

 Mom's orange tree (2012),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life Mom's orange tree (2012),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life


JR: "I am working on developing a new project and all that I will say about it is that it’s pornographic, dirty, and fun."

To see more of Jordan Reznick's work and for contact information, please visit their website.

Dickerman Prints Gallery Presents: Wanderlust

a juried exhibition

WANDERLUST is a juried photographic exhibition featuring the work of 33 talented photographers. This was the call for entry:

For some, wanderlust manifests itself as an unquenchable thirst to explore life beyond your comfort zone. For others, it’s as simple as reading a book, taking a walk at lunch or going left instead of a right on the way to work. Wherever your wanderlust takes you - by foot, pedal, engine or “other” - we want to see it!

Click here for photos from the opening night reception on June 15, 2017.

“Not all those who wander are lost”

— JRR Tolkien

wildLIFE - a Juried Photo Exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

a juried exhibition

wildLIFE is a juried photographic exhibition featuring the work of 23 talented Bay Area photographers. Each artist was invited to interpret the word "wildLIFE" in any way that resonated with them ... from the natural world to our everyday lives and everything in between.

Click here for photos from the opening night reception on December 15, 2016.

Dickerman Prints Gallery Presents: 12,000 Years in the High Desert

Ancient and hidden petroglyphs, timeless landscapes, wild animals, indigenous tribes and North America’s oldest human settlements come together in Dennis Anderson’s latest photographic project.


Thursday, April 21, 2016   6-9pm
1141 Howard Street, SF

12,000 years ago, humans had a symbiotic relationship with our world. Nature was sacred, the cosmos untouched and mysticism a part of everyday life. While modern progress has paved over most traces of that existence, pockets of early civilization remain scattered across North America.

Hidden in the high desert plateaus of south-central Oregon, Native American tribes live in harmony with the same flora and fauna that sustained the region’s first paleo peoples. They gaze up at the Milky Way with the same reverence, and now keep the locations of their sacred sites secret from wandering visitors.

It took years of building relationships before Dennis Anderson learned the exact locations of certain ancient cave drawings and ceremonial rings. When asked about the inspiration behind this long-term project, Anderson explains,

“The sites are well out of cell phone range … but definitely in range of something bigger. Standing on that ancient and unpopulated land, one feels a powerful connection to the universe and to our planet. Even if it only provides a glimpse into that world, it’s worth seeking out.”

12,000 Years in the High Desert features more than 50 fine art prints, each transporting the viewer to a simpler time of prairies, indigenous rituals, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and thousands of migratory waterfowl soaring across the sky.


Dickerman Prints Gallery will host a public opening reception on Thursday, April 21st from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at 1141 Howard Street, San Francisco.

The exhibition will remain open on weekdays through May 28, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, and on Saturdays from Noon – 6:00pm.

Click here to RSVP


Named one of the 10 great hospitality photographers by Hospitality Design Magazine, Dennis Anderson is an internationally published tribal art, commercial and architectural photographer whose fine art photography resides in the permanent collections of both the New York and San Francisco Museums of Modern Art. Today, Anderson is still exploring the world with his camera … just as his mentor, Imogene Cunningham, encouraged him to do.

You can visit Dennis Anderson's Web site by clicking here.

An Interview with Kenneth Shevlin

Meet Kenneth Shevlin: artist, former commercial photographer and participant in Dickerman Prints' artist-in-residence program.

Kenneth's unique and varied photographic works range from the surreal to the hyper-real. His Places In-Between | New Landscapes series emulates the style of 19th century impressionism using a homemade pinhole camera. Meanwhile, My Space takes an intimate look into that most personal room in our home: the bedroom.

Recently, Kenneth was kind enough to spend some time chatting about his photography and career. Here is that interview...


DP: What does photography mean to you?

Photography is a complicated subject for me. In a day and age when everyone has a camera in their pocket and the ability to broadcast every moment of their lives, I find the amount of images I encounter on a daily basis overwhelming. The over saturation of imagery in the world maybe even threatens the medium of photography to be taken seriously. As far back as 1977 Susan Sontag had already written in her book, On Photography, that -

Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing—which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by most people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.

Photographers today seems to relish the idea that “there’s an app for that…” or “Don’t worry about it, I can change it in post…” Expediency and convenience seems to be king in the medium, robbing it of a kind of specialness. I’ve always loved photography and the potential for it’s meditative process in making art.

I think that’s why photographers like Ellen Susan and Sally Mann use the 19th century collodion process. Aside from the unique images that are created through this process, I imagine the cumbersomeness of that process slows them down and helps them more deeply engage with their subjects.

Photography is a complicated medium that skirts the line between a means of art making and a mechanical reproduction process - (Think Walter Benjamin). So what does photography mean to me, or rather why am I a photographer? I like the process of using a camera as an investigative tool and hopefully uncovering new ways of seeing and interpreting the world. That and I can’t paint!

You have spent most of your career as a commercial photographer. How does that work differ from your passion projects?

To clarify, I only spent a relatively small amount of time as a commercial photographer in the early to mid 1990’s … and most of that time was spent as a first assistant to a very successful commercial photographer here in San Francisco. He specialized in fashion and table top. It’s safe to say that experience killed most of my interest in commercial photography and almost killed my interest in photography in general. After quitting my assisting job and any commercial photography pursuits, I didn’t really pick up a camera again until 2010.

To answer the second part of your question, although quite a stretch in time, the way my photography differs now from before has everything to do with having gone to college and studying art history and conceptual art practice. Art history taught me how to think about art aesthetically and how to appreciate art and its trajectory in a social and historical context.

The conceptual art practice part taught me how to challenge conventional thinking around materials and what art could actually be outside of mainstream interpretation. The experience taught me to think about the “why” and “what" when considering what I was doing. I think without that experience I probably would never have come back to photography… up until then it had seemed so devoid of meaning for me… other than a way to promote products.

Can you describe the idea and inspiration behind your My Space project?

The My Space project came about in late 2014 while recalling my childhood. I had these memories of hearing nightly muffled interactions between my parents through our shared bedroom wall. Usually devoid of any discernible content because of the wall separating us, my parents bedroom became a mysterious place where private things were spoken about, done, and kept hidden away.

Being left alone quite a bit as a child, I would enter their bedroom as a kind of anthropologist any chance I got. I would search through their drawers and closet trying to find clues as to what was going on in that room during those nights. I came across allot of things I shouldn't have: A gun, war medals, pornography, money, cigarettes… It was both fascinating and frightening to me that my parents were one thing on the outside and two complete strangers to me when inhabiting their bedroom. So it got me thinking about the bedroom as unique space, the things we do in that space and the artifacts we keep there. So as a subject, photographing bedrooms seemed it could make an interesting series.

I’m still working out how best to present the spaces in terms of the amount of room to photograph and composition. Once I figure out what seems to work best, I plan on doing as many rooms as possible for a future show and maybe even try to self-publish a coffee table book of the images.

If you could photograph the “spaces” of any five people – living or not – who would they be and why?

I’m not sure. It’s the same issue I have with “if you were marooned on a desert island, what album would you want to bring with you?”

I’ve found every room I’ve photographed so far to be fascinating in some respect.  I go into every environment excited by the challenge of how to compose the photograph and how to light it.  What I find fascinating are the participants reactions after seeing the completed shot of their bedroom. It ranges from them really liking the photo to feeling it looks like some kind of forensic crime scene … filling them with a kind of dread … I guess I couldn’t ask for a better reaction!

Your landscape series attempts to emulate the look and feel of 19th century impressionism, what draws you to that particular art style?

For this body of work, the impressionistic look is a result of having used a pinhole camera. I felt the landscapes needed a particular visual style in order to explore the idea I was having about them. Namely, rapidly diminishing open spaces resulting from resource extraction and the expediency of wholesale development.

I felt Impressionism as a recognizable style was both in concept and technique best suited to the look I was trying to achieve. In this approach I’m trying to blend the scene, allowing light and natural forms to subsume the disfigurement caused by human imposition. My hope for these images is that they create an abstracted landscape existing somewhere between the literal and the imagined, encouraging contemplation around more thoughtful use of these spaces and the need for their conservation.


You developed your own pinhole lens for full frame digital cameras. Can you talk a bit about how you made it and how you use it?


There was a lot of trial and error getting the pinhole lens configuration to work correctly. Lots of gluing, drilling, step up rings, ND filters …etc. Even with the final lens configuration, it’s still a very hit or miss process trying to capture the image when shooting, but I love the process.

One of my favorite parts of being an artist is experimentation. I think most good ideas come from the “happy accident” when trying to solve creative problems. Recently I bought a new camera body from a different manufacturer … now I have to make the lens all over again!

You recently returned from a long photographic trip along the Northwest coast of America and Canada. Could you share a few of your favorite stories and photos from the adventure?

Indeed I did…last summer. It was an amazing trip. I try and get out onto the road each summer for a month to recharge and do the landscape work. It’s also a time I like to think about new photo projects. This trip though, I did more thinking than photographing.

My hope this last trip was to focus on the West Coast. Photographing the sea and the surrounding area from the tip of Washington State down back into California. Unfortunately with the strange weather - El Nino and The Blob (large mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean) most of the trip the entire coast was blanketed in fog.

So short of a meditation on the color grey through photography, I opted to do a bunch of reading on photography and exploring coastal towns. Many of those towns relying on tourism (now that logging is mostly gone) reminded me of something out of a David Lynch film …. scenes of desperation mixed with anxiety, fear and secrets. Could be another body of work!

On your Web site, you claim to have “no interest in whether analog photography is better than digital.” This begs the question, “why not?” Also, which do you prefer and why?

Well I’ve since removed that from the web site as I am not sure how much it added. But to clarify… My relationship to photography has always been a bit frustrated by the tension of its need for supposed precision, science and loyalty to purism and tradition. That and there’s a certain machismo around “gear” and the medium as if it were a kind of sport. It’s a real turn off and ultimately has no real bearing on the making of meaningful images.

It seems, unlike in other art forms, there’s this perceived notion that photography has a set of rules that need to be followed: One must use the correct shutter speed and exposure. There’s a particular lens or manufacturer that’s better than another. Adherence to “classical” composition is mandatory for a proper photograph. Lighting ratios … needing to follow development chemistry exactly (mostly during the days when I worked in the darkroom)… Pro vs Prosumer… A full size sensor is better than a cropped. It goes on an on. As far as I’m concerned these divisions are meaningless and do nothing to further photography as an expressive art form. Mostly it seems to relegate the camera’s use to an elite class of technicians working within a set of confining parameters.

With the development of digital photography there were the arguments between the purists and early adopters about how analog was better than digital…. how film had more fidelity or dynamic range or resolution. In the meantime most of these detractors were still doing the same stultifying work they’d always done. I don’t know… maybe the same arguments went on between those early photographers doing daguerreotype, ambrotypes and tintypes. Ultimately it all just seems like a bunch of noise.

I realize in the stridency of my response I should probably differentiate between my impressions of commercial photography and art photography. My experience working in commercial photography taught me it was important to represent the product or brand idyllically (realistically?) at any cost - regardless of the inherent falseness of the final “hero image”. This most of the time required manufacturing shots by using professional models wearing tailored clothing or in he case of table top … glycerin and water to emulate water droplets on a beer bottle. In these instances maybe it does call for a kind of science, being there is a need for consistency and repeatability.

On the other hand, with art photography (my opinion), it’s not always just about the final image, but the creative process of working towards the desired idea independent of the accepted means and conventions of getting there. More of a free and exploratory process of trying to create something unique in look, texture and feel ….something one of a kind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the reluctant say, “I’m not a good photographer … I don't know how to use a camera” …. It’s hard to imagine the individual(s) who did the cave paintings at Lascaux having such an ingrained notion of proper technique and skill!

So as to which do I prefer… analog or digital photography? Neither … they’re both great. I do more digital photography as it affords me the opportunity to experiment economically.

What projects are you working on during your residency at Dickerman Prints?

For the residency at Dickerman Prints, I will mostly be working on the pinhole landscape series. I did however work with Seth for one session on a “My Space” photo… discussing how I might do some adjustments to the image before printing. If time permits I’d like to work with Seth and print more from that series before the end of the residency.

What advice do you have to those among us who dream of following their passion and turning photography into a career choice?

If you're talking about advice on how to become a commercial photographer as a career choice …. do NOT spend $100,000 to go to a art school to become a commercial photographer. Find the commercial photographer who’s work you admire and figure out a way to assist with them. You’ll learn more about technique and business that way than all the classes you could ever take at the Pasadena Art Center.

If you want to follow your passion as an art photographer …. get a skill … wait … get a few skills that you can use to make a living while pursuing your vision and personal style. Don’t be afraid to break rules. Create projects for yourself and figure how to bring them to fruition. Figure out what your work is about and why you’re doing it … it will help as a guide in realizing the look, feel and content of what you’re exploring.

Finally try and get into a residency program like the one offered at Dickerman’s. The ability of being able to work with an artist and master printer like Seth would be invaluable in helping you to get closer to whatever vision your trying to achieve.

To meet Kenneth and experience his pinhole landscape series, be sure to stop by opening night of The Residents: Volume III - Friday, December 4, 6-9pm at Dickerman Prints Gallery - 1141 Howard Street, San Francisco.