From Cecile Oreste
Allen Russ is a local photographer whose work is currently for sale at Vastu’s $500 or Less Art Exhibition. His on-location work featured in the exhibition includes landscape shots of Acadia National Park in Maine, Estero Bay in Florida and Monument Valley in Arizona.
Landscapes and elements of the environment are often the focus of Russ’ photography.
“I’m always searching for that pure, pristine place,” he said. “In some ways, photography is escapism. When you take the signs of humanity out of the photo, you are redefining the world as you would like it to appear.”
According to Russ, all of the work featured at Vastu was shot on film, which is rare in today’s photography industry. The shots were then scanned into a computer and traditional dark room work was completed using Photoshop.
Despite using new technologies for his dark room work, Russ still uses old school principles to create his finished products.
“I don’t look at a photo as infinitely modifiable,” he said. “I still limit myself to what should theoretically be possible in a traditional darkroom. I try to use the raw digital file as if it were a film negative.”
When asked about the pieces he chose to contribute to the exhibition, Russ rediscovered older pieces in his collection. “I think they will appeal to people seeing them for the first time,” he said. He also based his decision on what would work best in the store, where he previously exhibited his work in 2007.
In addition to his artistic photography, Russ makes a living as an architectural photographer at Hoachlander Davis Photography in Adams Morgan. He was recently a finalist in the 2010 International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery and also regularly participates in the Hickok Cole Architects/Washington Project for the Arts annual benefit.
He is currently working on a project titled “City of Trees,” a collection of tree photographs in the District which he plans to publish as a book. He hopes to donate the proceeds from the potential book sales to the Trust for the National Mall and to eventually expand this business model in order to impact other important organizations.