We live in an era where the art of photography has been sadly reduced by every grey-beard loon who stoppeth one of three and holds the Wedding-Guest with his glittering eye while he shows off smart phone snapshots of family members the Wedding-Guest has never met, never will meet, and hopes to go to his grave without meeting. Even the vast bulk of visual images on the news consists of incidental snapshots taken by people with their smart phones. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t qualify as art.
In this accidental digital age there are still a few old dinosaurs who regard photography as an art form, and among those there are a handful—at the most—who have clung tenaciously to the intricate and enduring past, using large-format cameras to create the kinds of art we associate with Ansel Adams.
And that’s a good place to start, because Jay Dusard is, I believe, the last living photographer to have studied with Ansel Adams.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know who Jay Dusard is, but for those of you who have only stumbled onto this site recently, pay attention, because this is a rare opportunity.
Jay was born on a farm in southern Illinois and studied architecture at the University of Florida, but like many another gifted student, his own success ruined him before he began. He was awarded a scholarship to study American architecture from coast to coast, and set out with good intentions, but he never made it out of the American West. He fell so in love with the landscapes, lifestyles, and skills of ranchers and cowboys that he ended up working on Warner Glenn’s borderland ranch for “bunk and board and seven dollars a day” as he learned the cowboy trade. That gives you a pretty good idea of what you can achieve with a degree in architecture.
A few years later Jay discovered photography, an addiction that led to study with both Ansel Adams and Frederick Sommer, a seven-year career as a professor of photography at Prescott College, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, more books and awards than you can shake a stick at, and exhibits at museums from Mexico City to Calgary and from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Now pushing eighty, he still travels extensively to both photograph and teach photography, plays jazz cornet, raises quarter horses, and—like a damned fool—still punches cattle.
Jay and his fellow photographers, Bruce Barnbaum and Bill Ellzey, will be teaching a workshop in the Pacific Northwest, and if you have any interest in photography, and have the opportunity, this is an unparalleled chance to learn from the best of the very best. Jay—being Jay—does not have a website, but go to:
If you go, send me a photograph.