There’s a Past to Every Image

Although anyone viewing my work today would gather that nature is the primary inspiration for my work, they wouldn’t likely discern that there was also a scientific background behind it. When speaking with patrons at the various shows I participate in, I often allude to my degree in Psychology/Biology. The formal education I received in college certainly informs my image making today. I understand that nothing in nature exists in isolation, that there is an interconnection between everything, and a long biological history to the landscape and it’s inhabitants.

These truths are represented in many ways in my work. I pay special attention to contexts, subject backgrounds, color interactions, behaviors, animal postures, and generally, the entire ecology of the scene. I can also however, totally isolate a subject from its natural context and really emphasize its purely sensual attributes. In fact in some ways, the very act of isolating a nature subject from it’s surroundings gives it a rather abstract feeling.

In addition to my college career, I spent 15 years working as a biologist in the information industry. In that professional role, I was working with the scientific literature in order to make it accessible to researchers around the world. In high school, I started working at the Academy of Natural Sciences (now part of Drexel University), in Philadelphia. There I worked with live animals, various fossil collections, and in the Malacology (shells) Department. I gained a special appreciation for the enormous variety of life that has, and still does inhabit the earth.

All of these experiences have shaped my thoughts and aesthetics when making an image. The process though is on going. Each new experience, each new bit of learning, each new person I meet, all impact me and the work I create.

It has been 30 years this year since I presented my senior thesis, but the influence of that time is still strong.

Yes, I really did a project on cannabalism

Yes, I really did a project on cannabalism

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5 Responses to “There’s a Past to Every Image”


  1. 1 Brad Sears April 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Great story, Paul! You point out very well the fact that art is always about more than simple abstractions.

    • 2 marty golin April 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      A good illustration of how the miniscule pinprick of an image in a moment simultaneously connects to the enormous sphere of our entire past. To take it another step, each image immediately becomes part of the past, contributing its little share to the art & science of (hopefully) creating better images.

      • 3 Paul Grecian April 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

        Yes, you are correct. You remind me of a quote that went something like – we photograph in order to see how things look when they are photographed. Except, I would say, we photograph in order to see what we saw.

    • 4 Paul Grecian April 8, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Brad, I think that says it very well.

  2. 5 marty golin April 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I think that was a Winogrand quote, but I like your version better.

    Curiously that sometimes after we’ve seen what we saw, we can revise &/or “correct” the image immediately, & some things (at least me for sure), I’ve seen & seen what I saw & saw, & still struggle to “properly” see it the first time I look.


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