January 2014



Theola Bright

Artist’s Statement

These photographs were made in the mid-nineties, and they are 8″ x 10″ contact prints on silver chloride contact printing paper. I was listening to Leonard Cohen at the time, and I titled the series after one of his songs: “Passing Through: Glad I Ran Into You.”

Making portraits was a new direction for me as I had never made portraits with the 8” x 10” camera and rarely did work in the studio. My work prior to that consisted of landscape, cityscape, or botanical/still life in natural light. I began this series by photographing friends or co-workers. I would not really ask that they “pose” while I photographed them, but rather that they “present” themselves to me and the large, sometimes intimidating, view camera. People started suggesting other people that I should photograph and I was soon making several portraits a week. In a few months I had maybe 15-20 finished and matted portraits that I would show the person I was to photograph, giving them an idea of what the project was about. I consider this an open-ended series since I can add a new subject at any time.




Walter Beckham was born in 1949 in Mobile, Alabama. He attended the University of Montevallo and the University of South Alabama, and worked in a photo lab while in college. He discovered Edward Weston’s Daybooks in 1974 and became seriously involved in photography. He worked as a medical photographer from 1976-2004, and a PR photographer from 2004-2011. Beckham helped establish the photography program at University of South Alabama in 1977 and taught photography there until 1992. In 1977 he began using the view camera in 4 X 5 and 5 X 7 formats. He began working with the 8 X 10 camera in 1984, making only contact prints. He then began working with the 8 X 20 panoramic camera in 1986. Beckham studied with Michael A. Smith in Ottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1987. He started working on the Alabama Landscape/Cityscape series in 1989, using the 8 X 10 and 8 X 20 formats. In 1995, he began the Passing Through: Glad I Ran Into You series of 8 X 10 portraits in a studio. Currently Beckham is working in color with the 35mm camera, shooting color negative film, scanning the negatives and printing them as archival pigment prints.