LAND, SKY PROVIDE CANVAS FOR KEN SCHORY'S PHOTOGRAPHIC STROKES
One of the highest compliments you can pay Ken Schory is to tell him that his photographs look like -- well, like paintings.
Beyond his photographer idols, such as Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter, Schory looks to the classical painters of Europe and North America. His goal, he says, is to incorporate into his work those same qualities of tonal range and detail that you see in a painting by Andrew Wyeth.
Don't call his photographs "pretty" -- he's not fond of that adjective. His loftier intent is to produce work that is "moving to the soul. I'm looking for that balance between man and nature."
To that end, he spends about three weeks a year hiking and camping in some of this country's most beautiful spots: Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, coastal Maine, and some pretty nifty settings in Ohio, too.
He takes with him a large-format camera, medium-speed color film and 35 pounds of food, medical supplies and other equipment.
The fruit of those expeditions can be seen through March 29 at Witham Gallery in Oakwood. Schory's limited-edition prints will be for sale, and 10 percent of the proceeds will benefit Aullwood Audubon Center. It's his way of giving back to nature what it has given him.
Schory, director of industrial design strategy at NCR, is a self-taught photographer whose interest follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. But when his father lost his sight to diabetic retinopathy at age 36, Schory began to describe the visual world to his father; in so doing, he learned to sharpen his own vision of the world.
He's been taking pictures for more than 30 years, but it wasn't until 1991, when his father died, that he felt like he had become a "serious" photographer.
He only does landscapes, and he only uses color. "I do what I do best," he says. Unlike the studio photographer, the nature photographer must work with what's on hand: lighting, weather conditions and subject matter. Schory may spend an hour framing and waiting for the perfect shot. But, he says, "I don't dawdle. If I do that, I'm missing other images."
Still, he believes the strength of composition is "the heart and soul of the images." The framing of images that he does on site is "refined" by cropping in the darkroom. "My goal is to put into that rectangle the elements of an experience," he says.
His work has been on display in the lobby of Kettering Tower, and last summer he had a show at the Dayton Museum of Natural History. There is no list of awards attached to his resume, however.
"I hate competitions," he says. "They tend to go for the avant-garde. My work is 'straight' photography. It doesn't get much press, because it isn't jarring to the senses. It's just the opposite."