Former physician Larry Rankin has been taking landscape, nature and travel photographs since his teenage years. But since retiring in 2001 — and with the support of his wife, Jean, a birder — he says he’s been able to expand his artistic efforts.
Since moving to Florence from Pennsylvania in 2013 — he and his wife wanted to be be closer to their children, including a daughter in Amherst — Rankin, 74, has become a member of the Pioneer Valley Photographic Artists and Gallery A3 in Amherst. He previously exhibited in central and eastern Pennsylvania, at the Chautauqua Institute in New York state, and more recently at the Jadite Gallery in New York City. Last year, he also published his first photography book, “Waterscapes: light, color, gesture.”
Hampshire Life: Describe your artistic approach.
Larry Rankin: I’ve realized feeling is as important as seeing in creating new work. As a result, fine art, and often abstract, photography are my principal interests.
H.L.: What is your creative process like?
L.R.: It’s twofold. First is the experience in the moment with the camera. I particularly appreciate those moments when making photographs is a leisurely experience, an opportunity to respond emotionally to the place and time.
The second occurs in the “digital darkroom,” selecting images, possibly cropping, making global and selective adjustments in light and color tone, sharpening or blurring, and then making a print.
H.L.: Does it start with a “eureka” moment?
L.R.: There are some, and I believe they spring from within. We humans all yearn for transcendence: We want to be part of something greater, to connect with our origins, with our being, with the earth. So I do believe that most often my response to something I want to photograph is a soulful impulse.
H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?
I look at the image on the camera screen, perhaps adjust the exposure based on the histogram, but otherwise the judgment is an aesthetic one, particularly during image processing and printing. Does the image feel right, does it evoke a memory of the place, and ultimately will viewers connect with it?
H.L.: What do you do when you get stuck?
I take the camera for a meander — in the woods, on the beach, the back streets of town. I might also search through computer folders of older images and discover something to process.
H.L.: How do you know when the work is done?
L.R.: My own aesthetic satisfaction with the image or project is primary, but when an image or a print, or better yet a coherent exhibit of several images, evokes a personal and appreciative response from viewers, then I’m most likely to be satisfied with the work in question.
H.L.: What did you do most recently that related to your art?
L.R.: That would be my current exhibit at Gallery A3, “Woodlands and Waterscapes,” images of light, color, and gesture (intentional camera movement) made at the water’s edge and in the forest.
H.L.: What new ideas do you have for your next project?
L.R.: I’ve always been attracted to color but have realized that new and interesting compositions emerge with image conversion to black and white. So I’ve begun making images with monochrome prints in mind and looking forward to developing a series for my next Gallery A3 exhibit opportunity in 2018.
— Steve Pfarrer
Larry Rankin’s “Woodlands and Waterscapes” can be seen at Gallery A3, 28 Amity Street in Amherst, through April 29. His website is www.larryrankinphotography.com.