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J. Michael Whitaker About

After a 25-year career in social psychology documenting dark and disturbing human behaviors, I studied photography and embarked upon a second career focused upon brighter aspects of our world. Specifically, I endeavor to capture the wonderment of individuality and document cultural complexities and natural wonders. 7 comments


During my 25-year career in social psychology I designed and managed treatment programs for sexually abused children and violent juvenile offenders. From this dark side of life, I documented lives of hundreds of persons who perpetrated and/or were victimized by unimaginable brutalities.

In contrast, when I began my career as a fine art and social documentary photographer I committed to documenting the exact opposite. Specifically, my goal is to capture images that identify, promote and celebrate the wonderment of individuality.

While I prefer photographing people, I also capture "pictures without people." Through these images I want to communicate my view of the world in context of contrasts and comparisons to the graces and wonders of our world and life in general.

My personal work generally involves long-term projects. An example is "A Certain Amount of Light: Faces of Cuba." During that project I spent sixteen weeks visiting thirty-five towns/villages throughout every province in Cuba and exposing over 3,600 frames of film.

For years I preferred 35mm B&W film that I personally enjoyed developing and printing. However, I now have added a digital 35mm SLR camera and an archival ink jet printer to my equipment.

My work has been exhibited in group and individual shows in New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Memphis, and Belize. I currently am represented in Memphis by Gallery Fifty-Six and am actively seeking representation in other US regions, Canada and Europe.

To help support my personal projects I engage in a variety of commercially-oriented endeavors. For example, I produce archival ink jet prints and cards from my fine art photos for retail outlets, and also produce stock photography. Additionally, I am for hire to photograph persons interested in celebrating individuality and organizations or other groups interested in documenting various events or activities.

Summarily, my goal is to "capture" (as opposed to "create") images. Consistent with one gallery's characterization of my work as "real life" photography, I am more interested in reality than illusions or managed impressions.

The foundation of my photography is a personal way of viewing the world that has evolved and continues to evolve from my experiences as an observer of human behavior. Ultimately, my goal is to not only represent my view of the world but to accurately communicate views of the world held by others.


261 North Holly Street
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