Local photographer Alfred Gonzalez’s first exhibit — of his own work
Gonzalez remembers working a whole summer to buy his first camera. His father, also a photographer, loaned him his first lens.
In college, Gonzalez pursued both architecture and photography but ultimately realized photography was to be his true passion. In 1994 Gonzalez opened his own gallery and fused his interests by focusing on architecture photography.
Gonzalez’s current exhibit at Gallery 71, at 71st St. and Lexington Ave, depicts his first trip to Paris in 2000, as well as later trips. He says the trip to Paris most represented in the exhibit was a family vacation and “seemed like a good place to start.” Gonzalez’s own children are occasionally sprinkled throughout the prints, posing behind and around monuments and sculptures, subtly bringing the images to life.
“These are some of my largest pieces,” he notes. “It’s inspiring to see them on the walls — the images are more impressive the larger they become.”
“It validates it to see [the photos] at their best possible production,” he adds, of the experience of showing his first exhibit.
Gonzalez points to a photograph of the famed Arc de Triomphe, indicating a tiny figure whose features are crystal clear, explaining this clarity becomes possible with a larger negative size. Gonzalez’s photographs do not give themselves away all at once — one must examine them carefully to catch such exquisite detail.
Surrounded by his sizable black and white prints, Gonzalez explains that unlike many photographers he has not yet made the switch to digital photography. Indeed he’s a bit wary of the transition.
“There’s so much to learn,” says Gonzalez. He says learning digital is nothing like applying the skills of film photography. “I like the feel of a film-based camera, and I still have thousands of negatives.”
Gonzalez describes the experience of attending a wedding and realizing these days everyone is a photographer, snapping away.
He also notes that digital photography is a completely different process and kids who learn photography in the digital age are missing out on the valuable experience of “what an image should look like.” Gonzalez adds the dark room is a therapeutic place, even for up to eight hours at a time.
Still, he concedes digital editing is beneficial for reducing the cost of the photographic process.
Gonzalez, who “decided it was time to share [his] passion of a medium that has frozen moments in time for so many generations,” says his next show will be “New York,” both its architecture and its people.
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