Monday, September 11, 2006

Fine Art Photography at San Diego's Ray at Night

Widow Makers VIP artist's reception for Holt Webb at 4 Walls Gallery

Fine Art Photography

What a great night!

I'd like to thank all of my friends and colleagues for coming out and supporting my first solo gallery exhibition, and for supporting Ray at Night. I can't express in mere words how important it is to me that everyone dropped what they were doing to see my work on the gallery walls.

There were over 1000 people in attendance for the 5th Anniversary of Ray at Night, and it seemed like every single one of them stopped in to view my images. The gallery was packed all night, and even stayed open an hour after most other places on the street were closing down. There was a lot of interest in my color image of the Salton Sea, as well as the two images from my Trembling Earth series, but the stars of the show seemed to be the wild horse selections from my series, Untamed.

At one point, I saw a young woman jumping up and down with a huge smile on her face telling her friends all about how much she loved one of my black and white closeup horse portraits. Not sure yet if she bought the image, but I do expect that the image will sell very quickly.

I guess the image that got the most "oohs and aahs" was the 3 foot by 5 foot canvas of "U-01", the first in my Untamed series. It seemed to be the most talked about image of the night.

From what the gallery curator, Elliot Linwood, told me near the end of the evening, it looks like we sold 4 or 5 pieces, including two from the Untamed series.

Maybe it was the full moon, but everything seemed to come together for me that evening. ..

  • It was Ray at Night's 5th anniversary,
  • there was a great band playing on the roof (U2 style),
  • Toni Atkins gave a speech,
  • my parents flew into town just for the show,
  • almost all of my friends came down to support me,
  • this same month San Diego Magazine did a small profile on me as a contributing photographer,
  • San Diego Magazine also had a 6 page article on a home for which I did all the photography,
  • my best friend, Marc, and his wife, Nancy, sent me a bottle of fantastic wine for me to celebrate because they couldn't be here to celebrate with me,
  • attendance that night set a new record for the event.

I truly enjoyed the evening. It was a great start to what seems to be a blossoming career.

And, again, to all of you who made it out: A Giant THANK YOU!

And, to all of you who couldn't make it: I'll be having another reception on September 23rd. I hope to see you there.
© Holt Webb Photography

Monday, September 04, 2006

Development on Cumberland Island

Development on Cumberland Island?

There is a proposal out now by the National Park Service to improve access to the North end of Cumberland Island, just off the coast of Georgia. There is great debate about the plan centering around the impact of increased public access.

The basics of the plan can be found on the NPS website by clicking on the link below.

External Scoping - Cumberland Island National Seashore Transportation Management Plan:

Since I will be travelling to Cumberland Island in October (to document the wildlife and uninhabited natural beauty of the seashore), I am very interested in this discussion. The intent of the plan, if implemented, would be to improve access to the North end of the island by providing additional transportation on the existing dirt roads (unfortunately, many people take that to ultimately mean paved roads and all the necessary facilities that humans will need during their tours -- ie: restrooms, food, running water, electricity, parking, information booths, signage, etc.)

I'm all in favor of people seeing this beautiful country of ours, but I'm not in favor of the changes that must take place in order to make areas accessible.

Here's my beef:

What most people fail to understand about granting access to wildlife and nature is that the very accessibility you create compromises the natural state of the environment you are visiting.

People and wildlife have flourished for generations on Cumberland Island. Why? because they didn't have civilization crowding in on them, forcing them to join in on the Industrial Revolution. The roads that are planned, even if it is as simple as grading the existing dirt roads and paths, will facilitate more movement across and around the island, allowing more people to get from point A to point B. And more poeple means more facilities for those people (bathrooms, parking, food, garbage collection, running water, electricity,etc.). It's an inevitiable progression. And, on an island as small as Cumberland, it will have a serious impact.

People have every right to enjoy the park, but if access is increased, the park will change. And it will NOT be the same park you see today.

It's a basic rule of Quantum Physics. The mere act of observation affects that which is being observed.

And that is the bottom line...

Once you allow access to a place, any place, you change the dynamics of that place and it will never be the same again.

Many people complain about how difficult it is to get around the island. Well, it's difficult to get to the top of the Great Pyramid, too. It's encouraging that people are interested in nature and want to see the island, and it's great that the National Park Service wants more people to see it, but providing a shuttle service to the north shore will diminish the natural qualities of the island. There are already several options for people willing to make the effort (bicycles, hiking, the Greyfield Inn's own tour bus). And, it should take effort to get there -- it's not Disneyland, it's wilderness.

One of the arguments, to quote a blogger on Peach Pundit, is that the Island's "current system discriminates against the elderly, the disabled, and those who do not have a propensity to walk 35 miles round trip."

I know it may seem harsh, but if you have physical ailments or disabilities that prevent you from making the trek around Cumberland Island, or you just don't feel like walking, then you'll have to do the exact same thing you'd have to do if you wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, climb Kilamanjaro, or swim the Great Barrier Reef: tough it out. (Or maybe we should provide shuttle service to those places, too?) I'm sorry, but we just can't make everything accessible to everybody.

What seems to be the real issue at hand, what seems to be at the heart of why people are taking sides on this issue in the first place, is this...

Will improved access hurt the island?

I agree that every citizen has the right to enjoy the Park, and you have the right to request improved access. But if you do, no matter how you look at it, it will NOT be the same park you see today. I, personally, don't want to see the island change. But that's just one person's opinion. There are thousands of other opinions to be heard and weighed. And the majority will rule. So, be careful what you wish for -- once all the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-approved services are implemented, and access is increased, Cumberland Island will be a very different place.

You can follow some of this debate at
© Holt Webb Photography

Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography by Holt Webb

San Diego Magazine is currently featuring my photographs of a beautiful Rancho Santa Fe home in an article entitled, Cool Ranch, written by Deirdre O’Shea.

In April of 2006, San Diego Magazine featured my first photographs of a stunning home overlooking the cliffs of Encinitas.

This article was the first publication of my architectural work. Since that issue was released, I’ve had my architectural photographs published in three separate coffee table books defining architecture and the home:

Materializing the Immaterial
The Architecture of Wallace Cunningham
Published by Yale University Press

California...A Great Place to Live
Published by Rhino Media Works

Published by Millennium House

It's all been very exciting, and very busy. And, it all came about because of an abandoned building in my neighborhood...

It was December 25, 2004 and the North Park Theatre had been under reconstructive demolition for over a year. What was once a state of the art Motion Picture house in the 1920s golden era of Hollywood, had begun a slow descent into abandonment and disrepair. When I arrived that Christmas morning, the theater had already been gutted and stripped of everything that could be removed without incorporating a wrecking ball. The seats were gone. The stage was empty. There were no fountains, no columns, no life. It was, simply put, a shell of its former self.

That is when I started the project. With the working lights still twinkling in the dark just before dawn, I climbed over the fence to record images of the theater in its second infancy. It was being reborn, and I knew I had to capture these moments lest they be lost forever behind new paint and acoustic paneling. I was trespassing, but I rationalized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and decided that it was well worth the risk. And, looking back, I believe I made the right choice.

So, with teeth chattering from the cold (yes, it does get cold in San Diego in the winter) and cameras set up, I began the first of uncountable rolls of black and white film.
It took 3 months to get official permission to enter the property (for safety reasons), and another 8 months and countless trips back into the theater to record the progress of its renovation, but the completed project was well received by the new occupants of the Theatre, the San Diego Lyric Opera, as well as the developer and the architect that took on the massive reconstruction.

And, it was that series of images that inspired the developer and his personal architect to recommend me to shoot his home for San Diego Magazine. Since then, my Architectural work has been keeping pace with my Fine Art Photography work, and I owe it all to a little trespassing on Christmas morning.
© Holt Webb Photography