Although his career interest was not initially in the Fine Arts, when Greg Ferrell finished his first elective art class in college, he had discovered the power of the visual image to provoke and inspire. This early provocation and inspiration have guided him since in his pursuit of communication through the camera lens.
As Ferrell became acquainted with artists such as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, and Frank Benson, as well as the great Impressionists, he was struck by the subtle effects of light they achieved in their work and the strength of their mastery of composition. As he continued to study their works, he realized they were playing off something intangible but significant in communicating their subject matter and themes.
Later when his career path took him to photography, Ferrell harkened back to this early training of his eye and his vision. His goal became not to duplicate with his camera but to interpret his subjects through the same interest in the subtle interplay of light on the angles and planes inherent in the scenes, faces, or objects before him. He understood that the same keys to achieve great paintings could also be applied to great photographs, keys like the pattern of value shapes, the elements and principles of design, the creation of visual passageways, a focal point with impact, use of the Golden Mean.
Ferrell came to photography through his enlistment in the United States Navy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval School of Photography in 1973, where he received training in photojournalism. However, over the course of his career in photography, he has slowly moved toward the practice of photography as a Fine Art. At this point in his career, he is once again happily pursuing his early interest in the study of illumination.
John Singer Sargent once said, “Color is an inborn gift, but appreciation of value is merely training of the eye, which everyone ought to be able to acquire.” It was that early introduction to paintings which Ferrell believes trained his eye. Therefore, in counseling aspiring photographers, Ferrell encourages them take every opportunity to view and study the great photographers, but also to take a course in art appreciation or visit art museums and acquaint themselves with the great painters as well.
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