Photographic History - chuckrayconner

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I have had an interest in photography since my junior year in high school (1963). At that time I took a photography class and had an "Imperial" 620 plastic camera, made in the late 1950's. In my senior year I joined the photography club to have more access to the darkroom.

After graduating, I joined the Air Force and was placed in the position of "Still Photographer". This was an on-the-job-training experience, being taught by my fellow photographers as well as study courses. I worked in a large photo lab that did journalism, portraits, photocopying, blue prints, Photostats, aerial photography and generally anything that someone needed in the range of photography. I was stationed in Washington State, West Pakistan and then Texas before my discharge after four years.

My photography career took a twist for awhile, I worked at a film production company in Dallas, Texas (1968), moved to New Jersey and sold portrait packages (I was terrible as a salesperson), and then on to Washington DC.

It was in D.C. that some of my most interesting photographic experiences began. I went to work for the Library of Congress as a photographer and worked in the studio/darkroom. I got to work directly from Civil War photographer Matthew Brady's original glass negatives in making prints, worked with Farm Security Administrations depression era photographers negatives, helped photographed the Gutenberg Bible and a variety of other photographic and printed historical materials.

From there I took a position as a Black/White printer with Still Photo, Inc. They had a contract with NASA and we did all of the photographs from Apollo 11 (first man on the moon) and Apollo 12. This company was later sold to Dunlap Photo, Inc. and I continued my work there on NASA contracts for about a year.

Then it was on to Washington State, where I had lived previously during high school. I enrolled at Everett Community College and took a two year program in Fine Art Photography. This was my best educational experience in photography. The course included portraiture, journalism, sequential photography, zone system, densitometry, commercial photography, etc. During the summers we took special projects classes that took us to the Oregon Coast, Olympic Rain Forest, Spokane Worlds Fair and Central Washington. In 1976 I left with an Associates Degree in Photography.

In 1977 I returned to my native WV roots and have since established a freelance business. My work has appeared in national magazines and been on the cover of three books. I have had my work exhibited in a variety of places (see exhibits), was a partner in a stock photography agency (AppaLight) and at times provide private photography/darkroom lessons. Since 2000 I have been documenting a Pentecostal Serpent-Handling church (Church of the Lord Jesus) in Jolo, West Virginia. This was initially funded through the WV Commission on the Arts and has developed into a life-long friendship with the congregation and several Mc Dowell County families.

At this time in life I pursue my passion for me, rarely taking on assignments or other work. I have begun to spend time researching my catalog of negatives, transparencies and other related images and begin to bring those to life in some form.


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