John Lehet at Boston Athenaeum Exhibit Opening
Since beginning with a view camera and large format film when I was a skinny young man in 1980, my photography has evolved in a steady arc. Over that time, my core concern has remained the same: I look for a resonance, a human response connecting to a natural situation. I want to look past surface concerns to find a deeper, less distracted emotional state. I make beautiful prints; sometimes beauty is enough, but I am trying to achieve something more.
Photography allows me to explore the connection between the world of outer manifestation and the human inner realm. Something is going on, a resonance is struck, but it is beyond words.When I can't name it, I'm on to something; that's the way I like it. Successful composition, form, tone, texture, and color can't be distilled into a formula, but I can use these characteristics as the means to an end. Briefly some situation of form is coming together in front of the camera, never to be quite the same again. I can use that, shapes, resonances, meaning, to make something work on paper. I want the final image to transform us, to crack our hearts like a nut and remind us that something vast stirs within us.
Most recently, I have fallen in love with the subtle characteristics of vintage lenses. They provide me with a broad nuanced palette with which to interpret the captured image as I work toward a print. I have lenses that are aggressively sharp and contrasty, and other great lenses that draw with light in a smoother and dreamier way. I play with the choice of paper that suits the image – from sharp and vivid, to textured and subtle – ultimately yielding a beautiful object. I combine the subject, lens, camera, and paper so that the final image leaps past the chain of steps that brought it to life.
My Buddhist meditation practice is a deep and important part of my toolbox, clarifying and sharpening my sight, and maybe more importantly giving me access to my inner world, clarifying the fluid connection between inner and outer realms. I use photographic technology to connect the outer realm of manifestations with the mysterious shifting forests, pools, and wild seas of our inner landscape; it happens through a beautiful print.