Large format photography is already a glorious medium, full of precious detail and clarity rarely offered by digital cameras, but John Chiara’s work elevates 4×5 photography to an unforeseen level. Chiara makes cameras so big that he can fit in them, exposes his photographs directly onto photo paper, and the rest is magic. The imagery is psychedelic and casts the viewer deep into the realms of Chiara’s world. In his new book California, we take a trip into a California rarely seen.
Chiara states, “I’m from California. I’ve been photographing for most of my life, taking pictures. I started taking it really seriously when I was in college studying photography using a 4×5 camera and doing contact prints. That’s where I decided that I wanted to start shooting directly onto paper. I made this discovery in the ’90s.
Up until that time all the pictures I’d seen were enlargements. When I saw these little 4x5s and just how visceral they were, I decided I wanted to try to expand that, technically trying to pull that off by making larger equipment, larger cameras and finding the lenses to cover the focal length. And it’s been a journey, I guess. So, it started out as a technical pursuit, but then in there I found my work.”
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