Curtis Salonick is a commercial photographer and artist living in Wilkes-Barre. Salonick, 60, graduated from Wilkes-Barre Township High School and received his associate's degree in science from Luzerne County Community College.
Photography is essentially your life. What is the genesis of your interest in the world of photography? "I always had an interest in art. I took art lessons when I was in my early teens, but it never met my expectations. On my 16th birthday I received a 35mm Pentax K1000 film camera and fell in love with it."
What kind of photographs did you take when you first received the gift? "I started out shooting the usual subjects at first. I would take photos of people, animals and nature. It quickly progressed from there. Shortly after I got the camera, the flood of 1972 happened. I approached the editor of The Times Leader to see if they needed any photographers and he told me to go out and shoot everything in regards to the flood. That pretty much launched me into the world of commercial photography as people started to notice my work and I had many flood photos in the newspaper."
So what did the commercial work involve? "It revolved mostly around private events but also included special events such as awards dinners, weddings and testimonials to name a few."
How did the artistic side of expression in photography present itself? "I got into the art side of photography during the time I was making a living at it. I define art as what is human. It is a purposeful act of human intent. I think for photography to be considered art it requires human intervention. For example, if I take a picture of two people naturally, that is simply a photograph. If I adjust elements such as lighting or repositioning of objects in the scope, that is art to me. The more influence I have over an image than the more it is art to me and my lens."
That being said, do you have a saying that corresponds with that notion? "Yes. While both photography and art share the same stage, their roles are different."
Take us into the world of your art. What style or type of art is it? "I consider it Gothic Surrealism. It is in touch with the darker side of our emotions. My work expresses emotions that deal with religion, sexuality and mortality. While I enjoy shooting all types of emotions, I have found that our dark sides tend to have more of a lasting effect than serene or tranquil moments. I take photographs of images that match or make each other complete with double or triple exposure settings. I then take that negative, scan it, and color it in Photoshop. I use a Cambo-superwide analog film camera with a 65mm lens that takes 4x5 black and white film."
What kind of connection are you looking for with your audience or someone who views your art? "If the viewer relates to one of my photographs then we may share a common bond. We may be coming from the same emotional place. Whereas another person may view it as just another photo. While I enjoy personal connection with viewers, I find personal satisfaction with the artistic side of my photographs. That is who I am."
Was there anyone who inspired you as an artist? "I really like the works of Hieronymus Bosch. His drawings, paintings and sketches were and are very influential on me."
You seemed to have a generic answer when it came to food, entertainment and music. "I like a large variety or like most everything. I enjoy all kinds of movies and every possible kind of food whether it be Mexican, Italian or what have you. I guess in music I could be a bit more specific. I enjoy jazz and really like Adele and Joan Baez."
To where do you travel? "I love visiting my best friend in Seabrook, New Hampshire and York in Maine."
What would you say was the proudest moment or moments in your life? "Most all of my proudest moments involve when I come up with a good image."
John Gordon writes about area people for the Meet feature. Reach him at 970-7229.