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From Strength to Strength by Laura Cutbirth

“The best thing about a picture is it never changes, even when the people in it do.” -Andy Warhol

Local photographer John Black has been capturing the hearts and images of Knoxville for over 32 years now and has 20-20 vision as to what lies ahead as we begin the New Year.

John grew up in Scotland, and it was there he began his love affair with horses. His hometown held Medieval festivals where children could slip away into a fairytale land filled with Queens and Carters, Clydesdales and costumes. The mystery of the enormous creatures captivated John’s boyish dreams and manifested themselves into the true art that exists on his canvases today.

Photography is what brought John to America in 1987, where he settled in Knoxville, TN and has remained ever since. After 32 years, this community has become home to John, and locals who know him feel the same way.

Starting out, John was in commercial photography where he captured the face of businesses, and the people that ran them. Mastering the art of making a “head shot” interesting, John began to be approached by other genre groups in the industry. Without pause, John’s focus transitioned into weddings, where he used the skills that he had developed to shoot business profiles and expanded on them to freeze moments in time.

John thought he would rest in wedding photography for a while, but to his surprise, it wasn’t long until he expanded his portfolio again. Many of the same couples whose weddings he had photographed, were now having children, and requesting his talent again to capture their new families. At first, John resisted the idea, because after all, the likelihood of children staying clean, cooperative, and in position for extended periods of time, is for lack of a better word, difficult.

Albeit, the requests kept coming in, and so John decided to give it a “shot.” To no one’s surprise but perhaps humbly his own, he was a natural. His engagement with the children allowed for their tiny personalities to shine, and for their parents to harness a stage of life that would pass far too quickly, and even one day, seem all a blur.

As life does, John came full circle around a year ago, when he received a request from a friend to photograph her horse. If you have seen a John Black equine portrait, you will understand the sentiment behind the statement that John Black has “reconnected with his first love”.

John is active in many local charities, since his reconnection with his first love, he’s had the opportunity to put his gift to use at Horse Haven of Tennessee. Horse Haven is a local animal shelter, whose mission is to rescue, rehab, and rehome Tennessee’s neglected and abused equine through program of shelter, education as well as promote long term adoption placement is prevalent. Learn more by visiting today.

Art is a subjectively biased interpretation of the artist’s subject. Artists show their own unique vision of a scene, which provokes a reaction from us, the viewer. Their ‘job’ if you like, is to make us see a scene and to execute it in a way that engages the viewer.

Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but an actual trace of it.

A photograph captures a moment in time in its actuality, whereas something like a painting or drawing, however accurate, is essentially a rendering of whatever the artist chooses to see. John Black’s Photography encompasses the very nature of art. His portraits capture each moment in time, and not only provoke reactions out of each viewer, but each viewer differently.

Some viewers do not appreciate the artistic value in photography. In today’s age of social media and digital photography, there is a belief that anyone can take photographs, and instantly post them as that.

Further, photographs do not require cameras anymore. Almost all mobile phones have cameras that are interconnected with various social media mediums to upload images onto. And, by being able to download digital copies, or post images seconds after they are taken with various generic filters attached, we have somehow stripped the photograph of its’ humanity.

“There is one thing the photograph must contain…the humanity of a moment.”

– Robert Frank

By devaluing the skill that lies in being able to translate a vision into a finished product, we have suppressed the stories pictures are intended to tell, and by the people intended to tell them.

Over the past 32 years, John Black has been required to make several adjustments to his photography portfolio and doesn’t expect anything less as he looks forward to 2020. However, one thing will remain- despite the digital era we are in, where instant gratification is expected, John Black Photography will not compromise the quality and skill level that exists in each one of his productions. For John, quality over quantity, emotional images over stagnant ones, and producing photographs to be seen as priceless investments that will last a lifetime are paramount.

To find out more, please visit John Black’s website, or call to schedule a consultation today.


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