Artist Profile: John Ingiaimo, “oldschool” photographer
John Ingiaimo’s dad was a commercial photographer in the 1970s, so a young John learned the art of photography and how to print photos at a young age, with the benefit of a darkroom in his home. In 1994, Ingiaimo started assisting his father with wedding photography, and as he grew older, attended Luzerne and Keystone Colleges, studying mainly under local artist Ward Roe. Photography “guru” Rolfe Ross then took Ingiaimo under his wing and introduced him to fine art photography, at which he now thrives. Although Ingiaimo now specializes in special events and portrait photography, he is starting to revisit landscape photography and other specializations of the discipline.
Ingiaimo “went digital” following the trend of almost all other “photogs” while working in New York City, but came to believe that his photos “lacked feeling.” That is when he went back and dusted off his instant camera. The Deardorff is a 90-year-old, beautiful, mahogany and brass camera that works like a Polaroid, and offers the intriguing juxtaposition of new film being used in an old machine. Ingiaimo bought the camera on eBay 10 years ago, refurbished it, and then found a tripod of that bygone era, as well. Since his most recent switch to the Deardorff, he hasn’t looked back, and now describes himself and his work as “officially analog.”
Capturing images is Ingiaimo’s way of communicating with, and making his mark on, the world. “I hope to leave behind something that is going to inspire other people. I like to make a quality product and print,” he states. Besides the rush that comes from using photographs to “speak” to the public, he is also motivated by other artists’ works and is inspired by other photographers. Ingiaimo notes that he likes to “push the envelope” of what is possible, especially playing upon the cross breeding of new and old technologies. The science of photography is also what keeps Ingiaimo excited—the mathematics of exposure, the chemicals used to develop the prints, and the technology being developed that is allowing old cameras to become functional once again.
One of the thrills for Ingiaimo is the unknown. Polaroid went out of business in 2009, so all the film is now expired. Expired film can cause “tonal shifts,” or changes in an image’s overall appearance with respect to the range and distribution of tones and the smoothness between them. In other words, “abnormalities” in color, crispness of an image or background, etc. can occur, which are effects that many people, Ingiaimo included, like about the marriage of old and new. Aside from instant photographs, he uses traditional black-and-white monochrome film that he develops in a darkroom. He also practices alternative process photography, which uses platinum or “gum” prints that react to sunlight to develop the photo. Ingiaimo believes that the value of his particular pictures is in their expanded tonal scale, that “true” images (rather than digital ones) have a much richer range of depth, darkness, and light, especially when shooting in black and white. Each of his photographs is unpredictable, and truly one of a kind. As the artist himself notes, “One of the best things about alternative photography is that the mistakes can turn out to be beautiful or something you didn’t expect.” Ingiaimo describes this effect as being “a stone’s throw from reality.”
More about the artist
You can discover more about this artist, or contact him to purchase or commission works, by visiting his Facebook presence (www.facebook.com/john.ingiaimo) or his Flickr account (www.flickr.com/photos/ingiaimo/).