“I haven’t photographed wildlife for decades. I think it is very important to stay away from any specific style until you are emotionally ready and fresh, or your work will start to look tired, trite and degrade the art form….that is, if the art form is your priority and intention.” ~ David Brookover
Jackson photographer David Brookover (who shoots with large format film) is not known for his wildlife photography. But as a direct result of his delving into the photographic art form of creating platinum palladium photographic prints, Brookover has added a new series of wildlife images. These spare and powerful works, taken in Yellowstone during the winter and spring of 2010, depict species spirits as timeless.
This wolf is all wolves. This eagle, all eagles. On his first try, Brookover caught a bobcat on film.
Who does that in Yellowstone? Viewing these restrained, spiritual photographs I realized I’d been waiting for them to find their way here.
Brookover’s fifteen years living in Japan—where he began practicing photography—made him a great admirer of that country’s papers and textiles. These substrates, thought Brookover, would be beautiful as part of a photographic art form. Five years ago Brookover began applying ancient printing techniques to exotic, handmade Japanese fiber papers.
“It was quite a challenge but well worth the effort as it has changed the direction of my photography and the gallery,” says Brookover. “Those who have followed my work have seen a steady transition in printing techniques, moving away from color photography to more traditional printing processes. I still enjoy the colors of nature but have begun to distance myself from color, and the direction color photography is going as a whole.”
He has been focusing on platinums, and connecting with the materials and process directly affected Brookover’s decision to try photographing wildlife again. His portraits would be new; these are printed on papers that were first created in China during the 1st century. The papers were utilized and brought forward to Japan by Buddhist monks during the 6th century, and “perfected” by the Japanese in the 8th century. He favors the term “noble metals” when referring to platinum and palladium. Brookover has also begun experimenting with a rarely used printing process called bromoil. The painstaking procedure removes silver from a print and replaces it with ink.
The photographs feel steeped in antiquity. Conversely, they seem hastily taken by visitors from another universe, exposed under hot light. Yet another interpretation: the work of earliest man, who, in a Stanley Kubrick 2001 Space Odyssey time warp, stumbles upon a camera.
Speaking about his work, and of photographers as a community, Brookover says that many “differing similarities” exist when it comes to the craft. “Take a few photographers photographing together, shoot a landscape or animal, and you will find a degree of uniqueness amongst us. But for me, it’s what you do afterwards that defines you. It is this pursuit of perfection that drives me. For me, the rest is just controlled folly.”