A Beautiful World In Black And White

PAYSON ARTS

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Photographer William Fuller captures the architecture of cities in black and white.

Fuller lets the buildings and statues tell a story sans cars and people.

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William Fuller moved from engineering to large format black and white photography. His favorite subjects for his work are the unique details found in architecture, especially ornate municipal buildings.

"I love cities," he said.

Which is ironic because he makes his home in the relative wilderness near the Natural Bridge. He has lived in the Rim Country for 31 years.

"It is a lot easier to work here where it is quiet," he said.

Over the past 25 years he has taken thousands of photos, developed them and put hundreds in several portfolios. One day he hopes this body of work will be published as a book or books.

"The City -- A Formalist View of American Urban Architecture" is a two volume set of some 100 photos is complete.

"I started out 20 years ago doing buildings and a couple of them had figures in front. I thought, that's kind of interesting,"

His goal as a photographer is to make people see differently these places they may pass unthinkingly, such as the angled shot of small figures in the eaves of a building formed by pillars nearer to the lens.

He has been working on "Figures in a Landscape" for the last eight months.

One shot has a mermaid filling most of the right side of the frame and just a hand from another part of the statue at the bottom middle of the rest of the picture.

"I composed it so it was strange. I could have shown more of the figure with the hand but that made a weird, surrealistic photograph."

Mermaids captured his attention again on the highway leading in to Weeki Wachee, Fla.

In Fuller's photo, several stone mermaids with elongated necks, split legs and fins instead of feet seem to cavort unsupported in the air. Choosing the composition and making it work is one of the things he enjoys most about photography he said.

"There is so much unusual sculpture out in the world. Capitol buildings have incredibly strange stuff around them," he said, pointing out photos he took of classical statue of three wrestling nude women outside city hall in Atascadero, Calif. and the nude female statue outside the post office in Cleveland, Ohio.

With a big camera it takes some effort.

Protecting his tripod and large four-by-five camera from people milling around is one challenge of capturing statues. If there are stationary objects, Fuller must find a way to shoot around them.

"A four-by-five camera works kind of like a periscope on a submarine," he said. "You can be here (in a parking garage) and be shooting up at another level and still get these perfectly parallel lines. That's the great thing about a large format camera. It is how I am able to do everything straight and square."

Fuller is part of a minority of lens men who still use a darkroom.

"I have nothing against digitals, but darkrooms will never totally disappear," he said.

In fact, developing chemicals are becoming more and more difficult to obtain.

Loading the camera with sheet film, taking the picture, developing the negative, and watching his vision develop in the chemical bath, hanging the print to dry, cutting the mat and framing his art are all part of Fuller's process.

"The most I have ever done in one day is 12 photos and that's just developing, never mind the actual "dodging and burning" and other adjustments of the printing and toning processes.

A book with 46 6-by-10-inch photographs might take him four months.

Ten years ago the building he used as his studio and darkroom was his home.

It now sits next to a much larger home he built for his wife Mary Ellen.

"I hope I am done building," he said.

But since he will never give up his camera, he may eventually need more wall space for his art.

RESUME

Name: William Fuller

Medium: Black and white photography, gels and silver prints of landscapes, cityscapes, southwestern places, portraits

Camera: Four by Five

A thing he doesn't do: E-mail

Inspirations: Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Ansel Adams and Edward Steichen

Two cities he grew up in: Pittsburgh, Penn. and Chicago, Ill.

Recent publication: The photography journal, LensWork, Mar - Apr 2006

Loves: Art books

Points of contact: Studio (928) 476-4422 or Myra's Gallery, Pine

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